Netherlands approves Covid vaccines for 12 to 17 year olds; Invites go out this week
Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has approved vaccinating people from the ages of 12 through 17 against Covid-19. There are 1.1 million people in the age group, and those born in 2004 will be the first to be allowed to schedule their appointment beginning on Friday.
Invitations will likely arrive in the mail beginning on Tuesday, July 6, but appointments can be booked before the invitation arrives. Younger children will be invited as the days progress.
"I therefore expect that all young people who want to be vaccinated will be able to receive their first vaccination before the start of the new school year," wrote in a letter to Parliament. "Vaccination against COVID-19 is, as I indicated earlier, is voluntary for everyone and therefore also for young people. Young people aged 12 to 15 years must decide on vaccination together with their parents/guardians."
The decision followed the advisory statement from the Dutch Health Council, which recommended making jabs available to all young people within this age group. The only vaccine approved for use in the Netherlands by people younger than 18 is the one manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech.
The Council said it issued the recommendation following an extensive ethical and legal consideration. It found that vaccinating members of this age group can be beneficial not only for young people but for the broader society in general. The new guidance was presented to the health minister on Tuesday.
"In addition to direct health benefits, vaccination can also produce indirect gains. For example, vaccination of 12 to 17year olds will lead to less virus circulation in that group and thus a lower possibility of restrictive measures that have negative impact on them, such as quarantine for school classes or school closures," the Council stated.
Furthermore, the Council explained that offering jabs to young people aged 12 to 17 will help to contain a possible resurgence of the epidemic later in winter and thus also reduce the infection rate among adults.
The Health Council acknowledged several reports of side effects following the use of Pfizer/BioNtech in adolescents but explained they were moderate in severity. It mentioned reports of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, inflammation of the pericardium, as being possible side effects, which also have been mostly mild when they occur.
"It is still unclear to what extent the occurrence of myocarditis and pericarditis is related to vaccination with BioNTech/Pfizer. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently investigating this. Myocarditis and pericarditis also occur with an infection with the coronavirus itself," the Council explained.
The government planned to establish a new website to assist parents and adolescents in making an informed decision, De Jonge said.