The authorization by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) of the use of the pediatric vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech against coronavirus for children aged 5 to 11 years, formalized this Thursday, has launched preparations in Spain for its administration to the 3.2 million minors of those ages residing in the country, for which more than six million doses will be needed if the follow-up of the campaign is massive. The autonomous communities are waiting for the Public Health Commission, of which they form part together with the Ministry of Health, to receive the recommendation of the experts of the Committee on Vaccines favorable to the measure to approve it, which will foreseeably occur in the next weeks.
The vaccination of children from 5 to 11 years old with the Pfizer-BioNTech serum has already begun during this month of November in countries such as Israel, the United States and Canada after the approval of the measure by the respective drug agencies.
Health has reported that the first doses are expected to arrive in Spain in mid-December, after which they will be distributed to the communities according to their child population in the same way that has been done with the rest of the vaccines received to date. The pediatric vaccine contains the same active ingredient as that for adults, but in less quantity: one third. The administration is also the same as that of the elderly: two injections in an arm separated by three weeks.
The Minister of Health and Families of Andalusia, Jesús Aguirre, has repeated in recent days his willingness to start vaccinating children as soon as possible “in schools, as far as possible, or in health centers” . Although before, he recalled, we must wait for approval by the Public Health Commission since “the vaccines arrive and the central government distributes them among the communities.”
Aragon points out that the Commission must determine if it will “prioritize some groups” among the children or the vaccination will be done to all at the same time as the doses arrive.
The Minister of Health of Balearic Islands, Patricia Gómez, has stated that vaccination in this community will take place “as soon as vaccines are available”, even if this coincides with the Christmas holidays. This community is working to have new spaces for the campaign, since the large enclosures were no longer used for mass vaccination of the general population, and the infantile will coincide with the administration of the third dose to those over 60 years of age.
The Minister of Health of Castilla-La Mancha, Jesús Fernández, explained this Friday that the region has prepared the device to start the immunization of children and is waiting for the arrival of the vials. “They talk about what is going to be throughout the month of December. Hopefully, we are prepared ”, he stated at the closing of the International Congress of Endovascular Surgery in Castilla-La Mancha.
Catalonia explains that it plans to follow “the established circuits” to vaccinate minors, “as has been done with the rest of the vaccines”.
In the Valencian Community, President Ximo Puig has ensured that the health services “are ready.” “It is a decision that the technicians must make,” said Puig on Thursday, who stressed that “as always, with maximum legal certainty, we are by definition in favor of applying all the extensions of the vaccine that are approved by the EMA and the Agency. Spanish for Medicines ”.
Extremadura, for its part, assures that it is “preparing the logistics for pediatric vaccination and awaiting the details offered by the Vaccine Report, the Public Health Commission and the Interterritorial Council.”
The Xunta de Galicia intends to vaccinate children taking advantage of the Christmas holidays, as long as the doses arrive on time, and would prefer not to have to wait when they return to the classrooms to give them the first dose. “The only thing we need are vaccines,” said the president of this community, Alberto Núñez Feijóo.
The Region of Murcia also expects to initiate child vaccination “imminently” as soon as it is approved by the Public Health Commission and there are “sufficient doses”. “They are the most effective tool” to face the pandemic, the president of the region, Fernando López Miras, said this Friday.
The Department of Health of the Basque Country recalled that it proposed in the last Interterritorial Council “to use all the mechanisms to accelerate and expedite the arrival of the pediatric vaccine.” Minister Gotzone Sagardui recalled that the cumulative incidence in the 6 to 12 age group in the Basque Country is 1,002 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, the highest in the Basque population as a whole.
The rest of the communities have not provided further details, but they have been willing to launch the childhood vaccination campaign as soon as possible as soon as it is agreed by Health and the autonomies after receiving the recommendation of the experts.
Cumulative incidence of 253 cases in children under 12 years of age
The Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) has also positioned itself this Thursday in favor of the vaccination of children, based on five arguments: The right of the child to their individual protection against the disease, to achieve and maintain safe educational spaces, achieve group immunity, reduce the circulation of SARS-COV-2 and [evitar] the appearance of new variants and not deprive the child population of the benefit of vaccination, which is already enjoyed by those over 12 years of age.
According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, corresponding to this Thursday, the cumulative incidence among children under 12 years of age in Spain amounts to 253 cases per 100,000 inhabitants at 14 days, almost 100 points more than that registered among the general population. The differences between communities, however, are very important. Navarra, with 1,040 cases, is the one that registers the most infections, while Asturias is the one with the least, with 99.
The EMA is also evaluating Moderna’s pediatric vaccine, although it is not expected to make a decision until the next few weeks. There is currently no approved vaccine for children under the age of five.
With information from Lucía Bohórquez, Margot Molina, Juan Navarro, Mikel Ormazábal, Amaia Otazu, Ana Pantaleoni, Silvia R. Pontevedra, Virginia Vadillo, Isabel Valdés, Cristina Vázquez and Guillermo Vega.
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