Lutsar: Vaccination of teenagers could commence toward fall

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AstraZeneca vaccine. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

In a situation where vaccines are still in short supply and many adults are still not vaccinated, efforts need to concentrate on inoculating the adult population. Immunization of 12-15-year-olds could land on the agenda toward autumn, provided there is sufficient adult coverage and enough doses by that time, finds Professor Irja Lutsar, members of the national immunoprophylactic expert committee and the government's advisory council.

The European Medicines Agency on Friday greenlit administering the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to 12-15-year-olds. Germany said it will launch vaccination of teenagers on June 7, while it is already underway in the United States. Estonia is in no hurry to immunize teenagers.

"There is no great rush when it comes to young people. The national focus should be on minimizing or fully getting rid of severe cases of the disease and potential side- and after-effects or the so-called long Covid. Also, to bring down the mortality rate. We need to keep our sights on vaccinating the adult population," Lutsar told ERR.

She added that the immunoprophylactic expert committee has not seen the EMA report yet but should have a picture inside a week, and that Estonia will also monitor the actions of other states.

Lutsar said that school is almost out, while vaccinating children is easiest in schools. She also finds that it would be best to inoculate teenagers immediately before the fall wave of the virus.

"We also need to have clarity in terms of having enough vaccine by then. It is hardly news that mRNA vaccines are in relatively short supply and a lot of adults remain unvaccinated. Children are not our priority today because Covid is a mild disease for them," Lutsar said.

The head of the government's scientific advisory council said that adults, including teachers should make efforts to get vaccinated during the summer to avoid a new wave in fall that is would likely originate in schools.

"There can be no third wave if enough people are vaccinated. It will also depend on the properties of new forms of the virus," she said, adding that many countries are refraining from immunizing children.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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