The EU’s medicines agency has recommended the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for 5-11-year-olds.
The European Medicines Agency said in a statement that it had made the decision after concluding that “the benefits of Comirnaty in children aged 5 to 11 outweigh the risks, particularly in those with conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19”.
The dose injected to that age group will be “lower than that used in people aged 12 and above”, the agency said.
The EU’s watchdog based its decision on a study conducted on almost 2,000 children that claimed the vaccine “was 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19”.
The move comes after the World Health Organization warned earlier this week that Europe and Central Asia could see COVID deaths top 2 million by March 1 unless urgent measures are taken.
Normally, the vaccine has to be rubber-stamped by the European Commission before health authorities in member states can begin administering shots to children aged 5 to 11.
But authorities in the Austrian capital, Vienna, have already started vaccinating this age group.
Earlier this week, Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said the shipping of vaccines for younger children in the EU would begin on December 20.
The United States signed off on Pfizer’s shots for children earlier this month, followed by other countries including Canada.