France’s health authorities approved COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged five to eleven years old on Monday, after an increase in instances of the novel omicron variant of coronavirus. According to the Associated Press, the administration said injections might start as early as Wednesday. Last week, France began immunising children with health risks, and on Monday, the High Authority for Health increased its advice to cover all children aged 5 to 11, using Pfizer’s paediatric dosage.

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It cited “the fifth wave due to the delta variant and the appearance of the omicron variant,” and said that after lengthy conversations with ethical committees, medical professionals, parents, and instructors, the decision was made.  The injections might start as early as Wednesday, according to Health Minister Olivier Veran. 

More weekly confirmed viral cases are being reported in France than at any other point during the pandemic, as well as an increase in hospitalizations connected to the virus. The government has cancelled New Year’s Eve celebrations and is stepping up attempts to distribute booster shots, but it has not closed restaurants or stores or imposed curfews, as several other European countries have done to combat omicron.

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According to France24, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination showed great efficacy among children when it became publicly available, and will be delivered in a paediatric formulation when it becomes widely available. 

“The HAS suggests that all parents who want it can have their children aged 5 to 11 years vaccinated,” she added.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that he supports vaccinations for children, but that the decision should be up to the parents.

The European Union’s drugs regulator, on the other hand, has approved a fifth COVID-19 vaccine for use in the 27-nation bloc, providing conditional marketing authorisation to Novavax’s two-dose vaccination. 

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The European Medicines Agency’s recommendation for conditional marketing authorization for the vaccine for people aged 18 and up, which must be approved by the EU’s executive commission, comes as many European countries grapple with infection outbreaks and concerns about the spread of the new omicron variant.