Health Ministry Okays COVID-19 Vaccine for At-Risk Teenagers

Frozen vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

The Health Ministry has approved providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children ages 12-15 who have pre-existing conditions and who have asked medical advice, Yisrael Hayom reported on Wednesday.

The pre-existing conditions included are those which raise the risk of complications from the coronavirus.

Over 800 children have been approved to receive the vaccination, the report said, noting that obesity was the most common reason for the requests.

The ministry debated approving the vaccine prior to it receiving approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but in a discussion at the end of March, 84% of the coronavirus management staff believed Israel should wait for FDA approval. In a discussion this week, the staff noted that vaccinating children ages 12-15 is “essential for the protection of children and ending the pandemic” but that Israel should wait for formal approval by the FDA before recommending that children be vaccinated.

A senior source in the health system said that “vaccinating children is expected to raise waves of opposition, which we have not seen until now. It requires transparent discussion in the Health Ministry, just like what the FDA is doing.”

Another source in the health system said, “The decision to vaccinate children was made a while ago, without professional or public discussion. Questions are arising that did not arise with regard to vaccinating the adults, such as whether to vaccinate children when the rate of infection is dropping.”

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