Germany will aim to offer Covid-19 vaccines to all children aged 12 and over by the end of August once a jab is approved for younger people by the European regulator, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday.
All 12- to 18-year-olds will be offered vaccines in the summer “on the condition of the expected approval, if nothing unforeseen happens”, Spahn said after a meeting with regional health ministers in Berlin.
The European Medicines Agency said this week it had begun evaluating the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, after a similar request in the US.
The vaccine is currently only approved in the EU for use on people aged 16 and over, but its possible authorisation for children is seen as a crucial step towards achieving herd immunity.
Germany has said it aims to make jabs available to all adults from some time in June, lifting its priority list that decides who gets to go first.
But Spahn also said Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine will now be offered to everyone immediately.
Germany has previously recommended the AstraZeneca jab only for people 60 and older following concerns over blood clotting cases among younger recipients of the vaccine.
After a slow start to its vaccination campaign, Germany began accelerating its inoculation campaign in April and last week vaccinated more than a million people in one day.
Some 30.6% of the population had received a first dose by Thursday, according to official data.
People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer have to abide by curfews and contact restrictions under a draft law passed by the parliament on Thursday.
The new freedoms, which also apply to those who have recovered from Covid-19, could come in as soon as this weekend.