Coronavirus: UAE allows use of Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 16 and above

Inoculations were previously limited to adults

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The UAE has approved the use of the coronavirus vaccine for teenagers aged 16 and above.

The decision was made by the Ministry of Health and Prevention on Sunday.

Previously, anyone aged under 18 was not allowed to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Two vaccinations are available in the UAE. The Sinopharm vaccine was approved for nationwide use on December 9. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was first administered in Dubai two weeks later. Free and voluntary vaccination campaigns are under way for both.

A statement by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority did not specify which vaccine the new minimum age applied to.

On Sunday, the ministry announced that 84,852 vaccine doses had been administered across the country over the past 24 hours.

The latest doses brought the total number to 1,882,778. This equates to a vaccination distribution rate of 19.04 doses per 100 people.

Age restrictions for vaccines are typically put in place because not enough testing is done on children. Initially, developers focused their clinical trials on adults.

However, some vaccine developers, including Pfizer and Moderna, have since included children as young as 12 in their clinical trials.

Last month, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention panel voted unanimously to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 16 years and older. The recommendation has yet to be signed off by the CDC's director before vaccinations can begin.

China National Biotec Group, a subsidiary of Sinopharm, has data on the use of one of its vaccines in children as young as three years of age. At the weekend, Chinese state media reported that the Sinopharm vaccine could be approved for use in children within weeks.

"Based on clinical data we have obtained and regulatory procedures we are filing to National Medical Products Administration, [the vaccine use] could be expanded to these aged between three and 17 before March," CNBG chairman Yang Xiaoming told state TV.

He said children aged three to five had to be carefully monitored during vaccination as their immune system was still developing.