Germany’s Vaccine Committee on Thursday recommended that all children aged 12-17 get a booster dose of COVID-19 as the country reported a new daily record of more than 81,000 coronavirus infections, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The government’s coronavirus crisis director warned of potential testing bottlenecks, although Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Germany had the means to deal with the situation.
The move in the boosted shots makes Germany among the first countries in the world to make such a recommendation, after the United States, Israel and Hungary.
“The current situation, with the sharp increase in the number of cases due to the Omicron variant and the frightening consequences for the health system in Germany, makes it necessary to extend the vaccination campaign,” the Steko Vaccine Committee said.
The third dose should be an mRNA injection from BioNTech/Pfizer and should be given, at the earliest, three months after the child gets the second shot, Steko said in a statement.
She added that while data on the efficacy and safety of the booster vaccination for children aged 12 to 17 is still limited, the risk of severe side effects is estimated to be very low.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not given regulatory approval, so Germany will be responsible for any obligations associated with the supporter for this age group.
The European Medicines Agency said this week that it was reviewing whether supportive approval of Pfizer shots would be extended to teens aged 16-17, and the drug companies expected to apply to the 12-15 age group as well.
BioNTech said it is processing data for booster vaccines for children aged 12 to 15 for submission to the EMA.
Germany, which is seeking to slow the spread of the Omicron variant that a week ago accounted for about 44% of COVID infections, reported a record 81,417 daily cases on Thursday, raising the seven-day infection rate to 427.7 per 100,000 residents.
More than 115,000 people have died from COVID-19 and about 45.1% of the population has received a booster dose.
The head of Germany’s federal coronavirus crisis team, Karsten Breuer, said workers in critical infrastructure sectors will have priority if COVID-19 testing capacity is tightened.
“As with all scarce resources, we will certainly have to pool capabilities when necessary. This also applies to tests,” Breuer told Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Health Minister Lauterbach said the booster campaign would help Germany avoid a sharp increase in Omicron infections.
Hilso welcomed the move by Steco, which in the past has been criticized for its reluctance to make such recommendations.
On Thursday, the German DIVI Society for Intensive/Emergency Medicine published data showing that unvaccinated people make up the majority of COVID-19 cases in intensive care units.
The data, which was collected between mid-December and January 12 and covers about 90% of all new ICU admissions for COVID-19, showed that 62% of admissions did not receive the vaccination.