Friday, September 30, 2022

Vienna to start vaccination of young children as part of a pilot project

BERLIN (AP) – Young children in Vienna may start getting coronavirus vaccinations next week as part of a pilot project, Austrian media reported on Saturday.

Austrian broadcaster ORF reported that around 200 children aged 5 to 11 can receive vaccinations from Pfizer / BioNTech every day in the Austrian capital starting Monday. The pilot project is limited to Vienna only and does not extend to the rest of the country.

While children in this age group may already be officially vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States or Israel, the European Medicines Agency, which regulates approval in the European Union, has yet to authorize vaccinations for children under 3 years of age. age 12.

The EU Medicines Regulatory Authority said earlier this week that it has begun evaluating whether Moderna will allow the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, and since last month it has been evaluating a vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech for use. in the same age group.

The agency did not say exactly when it will make a decision on the two vaccines, but the media reported that, at least for Pfizer / BioNTech, a decision could be made before Christmas.

As the number of infections on the continent grows at an alarming rate, allowing vaccinations for young children will bring welcome relief to millions of families in the EU.

Despite the lack of official authorization for emergency care, several pediatricians in Austria are already vaccinating children in this age group, as the demand for the vaccine is very high, as infection rates in the country are skyrocketing, according to ORF.

“The interest in off-label vaccination is huge,” Peter Voitl, a pediatrician and vaccination expert at the Vienna Medical Association, told ORF. “We are vaccinating the 5-11 age group at our clinic, and we have several hundred people on the waiting list.”

In recent weeks, there has been an alarming trend in the spread of infections in Austria. The country reported 13,152 new cases on Saturday, up from 11,798 a day earlier. The infection rate in seven days is 775.5 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. For comparison, in neighboring Germany this figure is 277.4, which has also already sounded the alarm due to the increase in the number.

On Friday, the Austrian government said it will quarantine unvaccinated people next week in two of the hardest hit regions. The government is set to announce new nationwide virus restrictions on Sunday.

Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe: about 65% of the total population is fully vaccinated, and 67.8% have received at least one dose of the vaccine.


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