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Spahn: Keep BioNtech COVID jab for teens

May 23, 2021

Germany's health minister said reserving BioNTech-Pfizer jabs for kids is the best way to ensure schools will open after summer vacation.

German students in a classroom
Children in Germany could be offered the BioNtech-Pfizer vaccine before AugustImage: imago/photothek/M. Gottschalk

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has called for the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to be reserved for school children so that they can be fully vaccinated when returning to the classroom for the next school year.

"One way to have regular classes after the summer vacations is to vaccinate young people," Spahn said in comments to the mass-market newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

The aim would be to have all school students offered the vaccine by the end of August, Spahn added.

The vaccine, co-produced by a German and a US company, is the only one currently heading towards approval in the European Union for use on children aged 12 to 15 years. This is why it should be reserved solely for this age group, Spahn explained.

US teens can get COVID vaccines

Going to school in Germany amid a pandemic

Germany's national coronavirus legislation, signed into law in April, saw unified rules on school closures and reopenings put into place in all 16 German states.

The "emergency brake" sees classroom teaching in schools stop entirely if the incidence rate exceeds 165 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in a state.

A mix of remote and in-person teaching is introduced if the incidence rate in a state falls below this.

There are further exceptions for graduating classes and special schools.

School pupils are also required to test negative for coronavirus when attending lessons in-person.

Vaccinating children and teens

COVID-19 vaccines for children

So far, the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine has been used by Canada and US for children aged 12 to 15-years.

But US pharmaceutical company Moderna, which uses mRNA technology like BioNTech-Pfizer, also announced on Sunday plans to apply to the EU in June for approval of its vaccine for use on teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17.

The company's CEO, Stephane Bancel, told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche that ideally, this age group should be vaccinated by the end of August, or risk a fourth infection wave.

kmm/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)