Vaccine registration for younger age group to open from Monday

Registration for Covid vaccinations will open on Monday for kids aged five to eleven.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 11.12.2021 15:35:00 (updated on 11.12.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The arrival of the new Omicron variant in the Czech Republic and throughout Europe is leading to renewed efforts to ramp up Covid vaccination programs. It’s feared a relatively low vaccination rate in some parts of the Czech Republic is playing a part in the high numbers of cases and deaths seen in the country in recent weeks.

The next stage in the vaccination program will see registration open up to kids aged five to eleven at midnight between Sunday and Monday. So far, Covid vaccines have only been available for those aged twelve and above. The Czech Republic is able to open up vaccines to the younger age group after a decision on the provision of vaccines for young children was made by the European Medicines Agency.

“The system will be launched at midnight. The vaccines will arrive next week. We recommend vaccination for all children,” said outgoing Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch.

Whether or not the Vojtěch’s plea will be followed is another matter. Vaccine uptake has been relatively slow in the twelve to fifteen age group. But the Vice Chairwoman of the Czech Vaccinology Society warned that Covid can be risky for younger children, with the potential for “multi-system failure after Covid” potentially affecting around one in a thousand infected children. Still, it remains true that children usually experience a far milder course of the disease than adults.

Vaccination for the younger age category will be free and voluntary, with 300,000 doses ordered for children so far. Only the Pfizer vaccines will be used, with kids to receive a third of the dose administered to adults. Vaccines will be given by general practitioners as well as in some vaccination centers, with the presence of a pediatrician a necessary condition of the vaccine being administered to a child. A list of vaccine centers can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

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The registration system for children is the same as for adults, taking place through the government’s online registration portal. Just like adults, the new age group will receive two doses of the vaccine with an interval of three weeks in between. It is not yet known whether the validity of vaccination will be only nine months, as is now the case for adults.

The effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine for the five to eleven age group was evaluated in trials involving 2,000 children with no signs of previous Covid infection. Of the 1,305 children who were given the vaccine instead of a placebo, only three subsequently caught Covid, compared with 16 of those given the placebo. Experts warn that some side effects may occur, though.

“The most common side effects in children aged five to eleven are pain, redness or swelling and the injection site, tiredness, headaches, muscle aches and chills,” said Hana Cabrnochová, Vice Chairwoman of the Czech Vaccinology Society.

Covid vaccines for children are expected to be made possible throughout the EU: Austria is already offering vaccines to the younger age group while others such as France and the Netherlands hope to follow suit soon. There is widespread political support for the move in the Czech Republic; incoming Health Minister Vlastimil Válek has said there can be “no doubt” about the need to vaccinate kids.

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