Will all children in Germany be offered a coronavirus vaccination?

Will all children in Germany be offered a coronavirus vaccination?

Germany’s Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) is planning against issuing a general vaccine recommendation for children, according to a number of media reports. Nonetheless, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn says he will make the vaccine available to anyone who wants it. 

Germany’s STIKO leaning against general vaccination recommendation

A member of STIKO has expressed scepticism about the possibility of vaccinating children and adolescents in Germany en masse. Rüdger von Kries told rbb that he believes it unlikely that the commission will issue a general recommendation for children to be vaccinated, since the risks involved are not yet clear. 

“STIKO is an autonomous body, we do not work at the request of the [health] ministry, we make our decisions after assessing the risks and benefits,” von Kries said, adding that, at the moment, “nothing” is known about the potential side effects of vaccines against COVID-19 in children, having not manifested in clinical trials. “If the risk is unclear, I cannot foresee at the moment that there will be a recommendation for widespread vaccinations.” 

Citing “inner circles", the RND has suggested that a vaccine recommendation will be issued for 12 to 15-year-olds with certain chronic conditions. For other children and adolescents, the panel is reportedly sceptical about the cost-benefit ratio, since there is a risk of side effects without it being clear to what extent the children themselves benefit from being vaccinated. 

While acknowledging that herd immunity was the primary goal, von Kries said that this should not be the only reason for vaccinating children. He said instead herd immunity could be much better achieved by focusing on the 40 million adults in Germany who have not yet been vaccinated. 

Jens Spahn still wants to offer vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds

However, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn appears to be sticking to his plan to offer older children and adolescents a coronavirus vaccination by the end of the summer holidays. He told ntv that, even if the STIKO does not issue a general recommendation, parents and their children could still make an independent decision to have the vaccine together with their doctors

Spahn emphasised that the STIKO decision is merely a “recommendation”, and that the vaccine looks set to be approved in a regular manner by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is currently reviewing the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine for use on 12 to 15 year olds. A decision is expected on Friday. 

Nonetheless, some have reacted critically to Spahn’s position, with the German Foundation for Patient Protection criticising the minister as “acting irresponsibly.” According to board member Eugen Brysch, if Spahn were to ignore STIKO’s scientific recommendations, he would be “dismantling a highly-regarded institution of the vaccination campaign.” 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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