French medical body advises Covid vaccines for some children under 12

A decision from the government on giving the Pfizer vaccine to 5-11 year olds is expected in early 2022

18 November 2021

Countries such as Israel and the US are already vaccinating children aged 5-11 years old Pic: Halfpoint / Shutterstock

By Joanna York

Some children under 12 should be given the Pfizer vaccine, as long as studies confirm it is safe to do so, French medical body l’Académie Nationale de médecine said yesterday (November 17).

This includes “children of any age at risk of serious forms of Covid-19 due to other health conditions” as well as “children living with vulnerable adults, especially those with immunodeficiencies and chronic illnesses”, it said in a statement.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have seen positive data from trial runs by their respective laboratories, however due to France’s current stance regarding Moderna (it is currently not recommended for the under 30s) it is subsequently unlikely that the latter would be recommended for the under 12 age group.

Read more: French health authority advises against Moderna jab for under-30s

In France, currently only children and adults aged over 12 are eligible for Covid vaccines. 

Some other countries, such as Israel and the US, are already vaccinating all children aged 5-11.

Those in favour of vaccinating under 12s say it will help stop the spread of the virus throughout the population.

Opponents have raised concerns that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can cause cardiac inflammation in very rare cases, which would negate the potential benefits of vaccinating children who are less likely to contract serious cases of the virus.

European health authorities are currently reviewing the idea of vaccinating under 12s and have reportedly received positive data from trials run by both Pfizer and Moderna.

Both laboratories have said that vaccinations given to this age group have caused no serious side effects. However, trials have only been carried out on groups of around 1,000 children, Le Monde reports.

Decision in France expected early 2022

Health Minister Olivier Véran said the French government will wait for a decision from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) before deciding whether vaccines should be given to children aged 5-11, and which children they could be given to in this age group.

On November 16 he told Ouest France: “The French position is to wait for a decision from the EMA, which should come in December.

If the EMA says the vaccine is effective on children aged 5-11, the Haute Autorité de sante and the vaccine strategy committee [in France] will then give their opinion. That will happen between now and the beginning of 2022.”

This was echoed by president of government advisory body le conseil scientifique, Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, on November 17. 

Interviewed by France Inter, he said: “If a decision is to be made, it will be at the beginning of 2022.”

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