UK – The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 17 years, weeks after the Pfizer shot was given a greenlight for deployment in this age set.

The UK’s health regulator has confirmed the vaccine, known as Spikevax, is safe and effective in this age group, the statement read.

 While most children develop mild or no symptoms with COVID-19, they are still able to spread the virus and some remain at risk of becoming seriously ill.

Moderna’s vaccine was recommended for use in adolescents by European regulators in July and is awaiting U.S. authorization. It is already approved for people over the age of 18 in the UK.

Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) gave the go ahead on August for 16 and 17-year-olds to get their first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the reopening of schools for the new education year in September.

A rapid spread of the Delta variant among young people fueled a recent peak in cases before schools broke up for the summer holidays.

“After carefully considering the latest data, we advise that healthy 16- to 17-year-olds are offered a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” said Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s COVID-19 Chair, adding that advice on when to offer the second vaccine dose would come later.

JCVI said that the benefits to children of keeping them healthy and in school were paramount, though there would also be positive impacts on society more broadly.

Britain has taken a much more cautious approach to vaccinating children than in the United States and Israel, which have pushed on with a broad roll-out for under 18s.

JCVI will make a decision on whether 12-17-year-olds should be vaccinated with the shot made by Moderna as part of its deployment programme.

The MHRA said it did not identify any new side effects with the vaccine and that the safety data was comparable with that for young adults, with adverse events being mostly mild and moderate and including sore arms or fatigue.

The highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus has become the dominant type globally, sustaining a pandemic that has killed over 130,000 in Britain.

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