“This can make a further real difference to our vaccine campaign, if approval is granted,” he said on the sidelines of a visit to a vaccine manufacturing plant in the German town of Reinbek.
Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. But vaccinating children of all ages will be critical to stopping the pandemic, especially because some research has shown that older children may play a role in spreading the virus.
Children represent about 13% of COVID-19 cases documented in the U.S. And while children are far less likely than adults to get seriously ill, at least 268 have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. alone and more than 13,500 have been hospitalized, according to a tally by the American Academy of Pediatrics. That’s more than die from the flu in an average year. A small number have also developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus.
Immunizing children against COVID-19 might also give authorities more confidence in reopening schools because getting children to comply with physical distancing and mask-wearing has sometimes been challenging.
“This can make a further real difference to our vaccine campaign, if approval is granted."
- German Health Minister Jens Spahn
Other COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are also studying whether their shots can safely be used in children.
The COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech was the first one to be granted a greenlight by the EMA in December, when it was licensed for anyone 16 and over across the 27-nation EU bloc.