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Europe Set to Authorize Covid Shot for Children Above 5 Years Old

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A child, age 7, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children in Montreal, Quebec

AFP via Getty Images

The European Medicine Agency said Thursday that it recommends the use of the PfizerBioNTech ‘s Covid-19 vaccine for children aged from 5 to 11, paving the way for EU-wide authorization of the shot in the days to come.

Use of the vaccine was extended from adults to teenagers in May, and the dose used on younger children would be diluted to a third of that used on adults, the EMA said in a release.

The most common side effects in children aged 5 to 11 are similar to those observed in older patients and “are usually mild or moderate and improve within a few days of vaccination,” the EMA noted.

Final approval must now come from the European Commission – the EU’s executive body. It usually follows the recommendation of the medicine regulator and could make its decision public as early as Friday. However, shots for this age range wouldn’t be expected to start until next month, when the low dose version would be available.

The EMA’s recommendation comes as the virus is spreading again in Europe, making the continent yet again the epicenter of the pandemic, on track to hit the 2 million deaths mark by March next year, according to the World Health Organization.