TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A panel of experts has decided to resume second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) COVID vaccine for children 12-17 years of age while also giving the green light for adults to receive a third vaccine dose.
After halting second doses of the BNT vaccine for children 12-17 years old on Nov. 10 amid myocarditis concerns, the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Sunday decided to resume administration of the jab for that age group, reported the Liberty Times. In addition, the committee has decided to allow adult recipients of the BNT and Moderna mRNA vaccines to receive a third dose six months after their second.
During Sunday's meeting, the panel of experts reportedly came to the consensus that children between the ages of 12 and 17 "will be inoculated" with the BNT vaccine. As for a third mRNA dose for adults, the committee agreed that the interval between the second and third shots should be at least six months.
The group stated that under special circumstances, adults can receive the third dose within five months. High-risk groups and those at high risk of exposure are to be given priority.
Children 12-17 first began receiving inoculations of BNT on Sept. 22, and the second dose was originally scheduled for four weeks later. However, due to reports of myocarditis and the fact that the outbreak in Taiwan had stabilized, the ACIP decided to halt the vaccinations to assess the risk to children in that age group.
During Sunday's meeting, the experts decided to restart BNT vaccinations for older children for the following reasons:
- New mutations and highly infectious strains of COVID continue to appear.
- Antibodies produced by the first dose will fade over time, while two doses will provide more protection.
- Cases are expected to rise in winter, and if there is an outbreak during winter vacation it may be difficult for students to get vaccinated quickly.
- The incidence of adverse reactions following the BNT vaccine is still low.
According to Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) statistics, there were 17 reported cases of myocarditis out of 1.1 million children ages 12 to 17 who received BNT. Of these, 14 were male and three were female.
As for the administration of the third dose of mRNA to adults, the top priority will be given to medical personnel, followed by central and local government epidemic prevention staff, and the third-highest priority group will be airline crews. Those over the age of 65 who are at a risk for severe illness will also be prioritized.
By the end of January, it is estimated that 263,000 adults will be eligible for the third dose of an mRNA vaccine.