Switzerland approves Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15 year olds

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Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines are seen at Sao Jose Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, January 19, 2021. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo

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ZURICH, June 4 (Reuters) - Switzerland on Friday approved vaccinating 12-to-15-year-old children with the COVID-19 shot from Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTEch , ahead of the country's plan to start inoculating younger people starting as early as July.

"Swissmedic has carefully examined the indication-extension application submitted by Pfizer," the regulator said in a statement, after giving the shot temporary ordinary authorisation for 12- to 15-year-olds.

The vaccine, like for people over 16 years, must be given in two doses after clinical trials showed around 100% efficiency in the younger age group, Swissmedic said.

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Britain's medicines regulator also on Friday approved the vaccine for the 12-15 age group, following the European Medicines Agency decision in May to expand approval for Pfizer/BioNTech's shot beyond older teens and adults. read more

U.S. drugmaker Moderna (MRNA.O) is also gearing up to seek approval for kids for its vaccine after study data showed it was safe and effective. read more

European countries, which are accelerating inoculations for people 16 and up, are mulling individual plans governing when and if to inoculate children against COVID-19 amid questions around safety and supply.

In Switzerland, which is outside the European Union, officials have said they hope to vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds starting this summer, to be ready for the 2021/2022 school year and to help reduce a potential transmission source for the virus heading into the coming winter.

"The more people are vaccinated, and children are part of this, the less virus will circulate and the less danger there will be for risk groups," the Swiss Federal Health Ministry told Reuters in response to questions about its strategy for children.

In the United States, where a majority of adults have got at least one shot, 12- to 15-year-olds started getting Pfizer/BioNTech shots in May.

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Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Alison Williams

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