12 to 15 year olds will soon have access to Covid-19 vaccination in Switzerland, Christoph Berger, head of Switzerland’s federal vaccination commission, told the newspaper NZZ over the weekend. On 22 June 2021, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) gave the plan a green light.
On 4 June 2021, Swissmedic, Switzerland’s drug approval authority, cleared the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use on 12-15 year olds.
Over the weekend, federal vaccination commission head Christoph Berger told the NZZ am Sonntag that a decision could come within a week, reported 20 Minutes. On 22 June 2021, FOPH announced its decision to proceed. Next, cantonal health authorities will progressively announce their plans to offer Covid-19 vaccinations to this age group.
Berger explained that the delay between the two decisions is due to different criteria. This age group is less affected by Covid-19 so it is not necessary to fix a vaccination target for them, he said. But those that want it should be able to have it. For those with preexisting conditions and those in contact with vulnerable people it makes sense, said Berger.
Key arguments for vaccinating 12 – 15 year olds are to prevent Long Covid and to reduce the circulation of the disease.
While rates of Long Covid appear to be lower among this age group the numbers are still significant. The UK Office for National Statistics estimates that 0.5% of 12-16 year olds in the UK had self-reported long COVID in May 2021. In addition, 53% of this Long Covid group reported that their condition affected their activity a little (45%) or a lot (8%).
Research suggests that those with mild symptoms, which includes many younger people, are less likely to spread the disease. However, the more people who are vaccinated, the less chance there is for the virus to find hosts and replicate, circulate, and mutate.
So far in the US around 4.3 million people aged 12-15 have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, a number making up nearly 26% of this age group, according to CDC statistics.