Vienna begins vaccinating young children in a pilot project

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BERLIN: Small children in Vienna may begin receiving coronavirus vaccinations next week as part of a pilot project, Austrian media reported on Saturday.
Austrian broadcaster ORF reported that around 200 children between the ages of 5 and 11 can receive strokes Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine every day in the Austrian capital from Monday. The pilot project is limited to Vienna only and does not apply to the rest of the country.
While children of this age group in the United States or Israel may already be officially vaccinated against Covid-19, the European Medicines Agency, which regulates the approval within the European Union, has not yet given the green light to vaccinations for children under the age of 12.
The EU medicines regulator said earlier this week that it has begun considering whether to authorize Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 and has been evaluating the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech for use in the same age group.
The agency did not say when exactly it will make a decision on the two vaccines but the media reported that at least for Pfizer / BioNTech a decision could come before Christmas.
As the number of infections is increasing across the continent at a worrying rate, the approval of vaccination for children would bring much-hoped-for relief for millions of families across the EU.
Despite the lack of official emergency approval, several pediatricians in Austria have already vaccinated children of this age group, as demand is very high as the infection rate in the country is increasing, ORF reported.
“The interest in off-label vaccination is huge,” Peter Voitl, pediatrician and vaccination expert with the Vienna Medical Association, he told the ORF. “We vaccinate the age group from 5 to 11 in our clinic and we have several hundred people on the waiting list.”
Austria has faced a worrying trend of infections in recent weeks. The country reported 13,152 new cases on Saturday, up from 11,798 the day before. The seven-day infection rate stands at 775.5 new cases per 100,000 population. By comparison, the rate is at 277.4 in neighboring Germany, which has already sounded the alarm for the numbers on the rise.
On Friday, the Austrian government said next week it will implement a lockdown for unvaccinated people in two hard-hit regions. The government is expected to announce further nationwide virus restrictions on Sunday.
Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe: around 65% of the total population is fully vaccinated and 67.8% have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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