After PM Viktor Orbán talked about the possibility of starting the vaccination of teenagers between 16-18 years old last week, the youngsters’ inoculation can soon commence, however, only with the Pfizer vaccine.
Viktor Orbán has ordered enough Pfizer vaccines for 16-18 year old teens, and they will be informed about the vaccination schedule in a few days.
“People between the ages of 16 and 18 can be vaccinated. We’ll only venture to vaccinate them with the Pfizer vaccine. So I instructed the authorities to set aside enough Pfizer vaccines for their inoculation, “
said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in an interview with Kossuth Radio last Friday.
On Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller announced that the vaccination of teenagers of this age group will begin in a few days, as there are enough Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in the country.
Regarding the mRNA-based vaccination, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) clearly stated that Pfizer could be used safely over the age of 16, whereas, as of now, AstraZeneca and Moderna were only approved for those over the age of 18. There are even more question marks around Sinopharm and the Sputnik V vaccines, but for both it is clear that they can only be given to people over 18, as it is declared on the website of the National Institute of Pharmacy and Food Health (OGYÉI).
Pfizer/BioNTech initially tested their vaccine on people over the age of 16, which is why it was approved. Although young people are behind in the order of vaccinations, Israel already inoculated its population between the ages of 16 and 18, and in the US, they approved such action after all federal states gave permission to do so a few days ago.
The two companies have gone further since then, involving young people between the ages of 12 and 15 in their latest tests, and the results speak for themselves. According to them, their coronavirus vaccine is 100 percent effective in this age group, and their bodies tolerate the vaccine very well. So in the future, it is likely that the vaccination protocol of teenagers will be widened in Hungary.
According to BioNtech’s CEO, Ugur Sahin, the company is in the final stages of work before submitting an application on May 5th, during which they plan to formally ask the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Community’s pharmaceutical authority, to extend the marketing authorization to 12-15 year olds.
The EMA test usually takes a few weeks, so the first vaccinations can be given as early as June, Ugur Sahin explained.
Furthermore, Pfizer and BioNtech are already testing their co-developed vaccine on those under 12 years of age. In the experiment, 144 different doses of the vaccine will be studied in 144 children. Each dose is given first to children aged 5-11, then to children aged 2-4, and finally to children aged 6 months to 2 years. After determining the most effective dose, the company will test the vaccine on an additional 4,500 children.
Shahin also spoke about the fact that everyone may need a third vaccine because they see that protection decreases over time, from 95 to 91 percent after six months, and the number of antibodies also drops after eight months. But vaccination given after nine or twelve months can strengthen protection. The head of BioNTech believes that a booster dose may be needed every one or one and a half years.
As for Hungary, allowing vaccination of people over the age of 16 is a logical step. According to the data of the Central Statistical Office, a total of 192,000 people in this age group live in Hungary. Although probably not everyone would register for the vaccination, the protection of this age group is crucial as the extra 200,000 people would increase the vaccination of society as a whole. In addition, this generation moves the most, and spreads the infection asymptomatically or with very mild symptoms. Also, there is a risk of infecting their family members or teachers.
“In order for true herd immunity to develop and to stop the intense spread of the virus, I consider it essential to vaccinate children. If we can’t stop children from becoming infected in the community, the spread of the virus won’t slow down, even though more and more adults will be vaccinated,”
argued Dr. György Póta, pediatrician.
Featured photo illustration by György Varga/MTI