Germany’s vaccine advisory panel said on May 24 that one COVID-19 shot was enough for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds because most of them had already undergone an infection, maintaining its cautious approach.
The view by the panel of 18 appointees, known as STIKO, contrasts with European Union regulators’ approval for a two-shot regimen in that age group.
“For children we have to assume that the rate of spreading of the infection is the highest. That’s why it’s reasonable to administer only one vaccination,” STIKO panel member Martin Terhardt told a media briefing.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said STIKO’s move had his full backing. “I hope that the vaccine will be well accepted but we must not exert pressure,” he added.
Children at risk of developing severe COVID-19 should get three shots and those living with an at-risk person should get two, the STIKO experts added, noting that the preferred product was the paediatric version of BioNTech and Pfizer’s Comirnaty but Moderna’s shot was another option for those six years and older.
STIKO did not highlight any disadvantages of giving more shots. Instead it said the risk of heart inflammation from a vaccination appeared to be markedly lower for younger children than in youngsters above 12 years old or young adults.