Spain plans to start vaccinating children between 12 and 17 years old around two weeks before the academic year starts in September, the health minister said on Friday, as the country neared a milestone of fully inoculating 10 million people.
Last week, the European Commission authorized Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to be used in children as young as 12 but left decisions on when to roll out the shots up to member states.
Germany announced plans to begin vaccinating youngsters from June 7, while Italy said it would soon extend its campaign to include children.
Unlike those two countries, which have opened up vaccines to all adults, Spain is progressively working its way through age groups and is now focusing on people aged 50-59, with some regions making a start on 40-49 year olds.
“The idea we have is…that before the start of the school year approximately … two weeks before, to be able to start this inoculation of our adolescent boys and girls,” Health Minister Carolina Darias told state broadcaster RTVE.
The proposal must be ratified by her ministry’s public health commission.
Darias said more than 10 million people – just over a fifth of the population – should be fully vaccinated by Friday evening and authorities were on track to meet a target of immunizing 70% of the population by mid-August.
With nationwide infections at 118 cases per 100,000 people, roughly half from the beginning of May, and most vulnerable groups vaccinated, Spain plans to reopen nightclubs in low-risk areas.
It also plans to reopen to international tourism on Monday, letting in leisure travellers from any country as long as they have received a full course of a World Health Organisation-approved vaccine two weeks before arrival.
Photo: A child wearing a protective face mask at the Albino Nunez school in Ourense, Spain. EPA-EFE/Brais Lorenzo