Tokyo: Japan’s Health Ministry on Friday approved the use of Pfizer vaccines to inoculate children aged between 5 and 11 as the nation continued to grapple with surging numbers of Covid-19 cases.
The vaccine rollout for 8 million eligible children in this age group will start in March, informed sources said after its approval was fast-tracked, making it the first vaccine to become available to this group in Japan.
The vaccine, developed by the US pharmaceutical giant and its German partner BioNTech SE, at the moment is available to those in Japan aged 12 and over.
“We’d like to carefully explain the safety of the vaccine and start inoculation as soon as possible to those who wish to receive it,” Noriko Horiuchi, the Minister in charge of promoting vaccine rollout, told the media.
“It is a big thing to have an inoculation option when some children are infected with the Omicron strain,” she added.
Horiuchi’s comments came as some parents have voiced concerns about possible side effects if they were to vaccinate their children.
Debate, meanwhile, continues among some experts as to whether children so young need to be vaccinated as they are unlikely to develop serious symptoms if they do contract the virus.