Reader question: When can children get the Covid jab in Germany?

The EMA has approved smaller doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine for use throughout the European Union, paving the way for 5-11 year olds in Germany to be given the jab. Here's when it's likely to be available.

Young girl gets Covid jab
A young girl gets her Covid jabs in New Jersey. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Seth Wenig

In an announcement made in Amsterdam on Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) revealed that smaller doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine had been approved for use in the 5-11 year old age group.

Once the approval gets the final sign-off from the European Commission, EU countries will get the go-ahead to start rolling out Covid jabs to the younger segment of their populations. 

So, when will children in Germany be able to get vaccinated – and how does it all work? Here’s the latest. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: Germans’ obsession with Pfizer jab reveals downsides of country’s health system

Does this mean children should definitely get the jab?

With the adapted Pfizer vaccine now approved for use in Europe, Germany’s Standing Vaccine Commission (Stiko) is likely to take a closer look at the facts with a view to issuing a recommendation for 5-11 year olds to get the jabs.

On Wednesday morning, Stiko chairman Thomas Mertens told the Funke Media Group that the panel were already working on a recommendation that could be in place in time for the new year. However, the panel first has to consider factors like possible side effects and weigh them against the possible benefits of the vaccination for children. 

“Our goal is to finalise this recommendation by the end of December, preferably by the time the children’s vaccine is starting to be delivered to the states,” he said.

Even if the recommendation doesn’t come from Stiko by Christmas, however, children between the ages of five and 11 will still be able to get inoculated once the smaller doses of the Pfizer vaccine are available in Germany. These are exactly the same as the Pfizer vaccine for adults, except 10mg is issued for one dose rather than the usual 30mg that adults receive.

The doses are set to be distributed in orange vials to prevent them getting mixed up with the adult doses, and children will be given two doses in total, with a three-week interval in between. 

When will German doctors have the doses?

According to outgoing Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), 2.4 million doses of the vaccine for children will be available in Germany from December 20th. Further deliveries are expected in the first months of the new year.

That means Germany will likely be able to start issuing its first jabs to under-12s from late December. 

In doing so, it will follow in the footsteps of Israel and the USA, where children aged five and up are already getting inoculated against Covid. 

READ ALSO: COMPARED: How Covid vaccination rules for children differ around Europe

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”