A few weeks before the end of the school vacations in many federal states, the permanent vaccination commission (stiko) is in favor of general corona vaccinations for all children over 12 years of age.
After careful evaluation of new data, it is now concluded "that, based on current knowledge, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk of very rare vaccine side effects," the independent body said on monday. Federal and state governments hailed the vote as an important guide for young people and parents, and held out the prospect of rapid vaccination services. But there was also criticism of the stiko and of political pressure on the body.
Federal health minister jens spahn (CDU) spoke of good news: "parents and young people now have a clear recommendation to opt for vaccination."Sufficient vaccine is available for all age groups. "If desired, vaccination can still take place this week"."Federal family minister christine lambrecht (SPD) said there was now "even more certainty in the decision to vaccinate". At the same time, she stressed that "vaccination remains voluntary and should not be a prerequisite for school attendance."
Federal education minister anja karliczek (CDU) told the deutsche presse-agentur: "even those who cannot or do not want to be vaccinated have a right to access to education." The well-rehearsed and preserved infection control and hygiene measures remained important, including for vaccinated schoolchildren and teachers.
The stiko has so far not generally recommended vaccinations for children between 12 and 17 years of age – but only in the case of a high risk of severe corona, for example due to diseases such as diabetes. According to stiko, however, they were already possible with a doctor’s declaration as an individual decision by children and parents. According to the robert koch institute (RKI), 24.3 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have already been vaccinated against corona at least once, and 15.1 percent have been fully vaccinated. The vaccines from biontech and moderna are approved for use from 12 years of age.
Meanwhile, possible risks of vaccination in the age group could be assessed more reliably, the stiko explained on monday. She referred to nearly ten million vaccinated children and adolescents in the U.S. Vaccination program. Stiko head thomas mertens had recently justified the reluctance with insufficient data on the safety of vaccination among adolescents. The main focus was on the possible consequences of myocardial inflammation in vaccinated patients. On monday, the stiko spoke of mostly uncomplicated procedures. The official recommendation text is not yet available; changes are still possible in a voting process with countries and experts.
At the beginning of august, the federal and state health ministers had already agreed on a broader range of vaccinations for children – for example, in regional vaccination centers. The chairman of the lander heads of department, klaus holetschek (CSU) from bavaria, called the stiko’s decision an important signal to parents and the young people themselves: "get yourself and your children vaccinated now!"The more children are vaccinated, "the safer we can start the coming school year". Grunen faction leader katrin goring-eckardt told the deutsche presse-agentur: "now we need speed to create easily accessible schoolyard vaccination services for schoolchildren, which are then also open to their parents right away."The clarification and information campaign now had to keep pace as well.
SPD health expert karl lauterbach said the stiko had waited a very long time before making its decision. "She has made it difficult for many children over the age of 12 to get vaccinated. All the more reason for me to welcome this step now," he told the "rheinische post". Bavaria’s minister president markus soder (CSU) wrote on twitter: "finally!". The decision is now important for the start of school. "Unfortunately, we have lost a lot of time," he criticized. "The faster the vaccination offer should now be made."
The FDP health expert in the bundestag, christine aschenberg-dugnus, said the stiko decision creates clarity for parents and children as well as legal certainty for doctors. "The federal government should have waited for this result instead of rushing ahead uncoordinatedly. This was simply to put pressure on the stiko."No corona vaccine is yet available for children under 12 years of age.