Berlin, other German states offer COVID-19 vaccine to 5-11s

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People wear face masks as they visit the Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. While some German federal states canceled their Christmas markets to avoid the outspread of the coronavirus, other have their markets open. (Photo/Michael Probst)

VIENNA (AP) — Children from 5 to 11 years old will be eligible to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine doses this week in Berlin, health officials said Sunday, joining other German states in opening up appointments to younger children.

The children in that age group will be able to get a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot in Berlin’s mass vaccination centers in schools, doctors’ offices and even at the city’s Natural History Museum.

The news comes days after Germany’s independent vaccination advisory panel said Thursday it was recommending vaccination for children age 5 to 11 with preexisting conditions or who are in close contact with vulnerable people. Children in this age group should receive two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine three to six weeks apart, the panel said.

The panel, known by its German acronym STIKO, added that young children without preexisting conditions can be vaccinated if there is an “individual desire” to do so — a step short of advising that all children in that age group get the shots.

Top government officials have pushed to make the vaccine available for younger children across the country.

“For many 5- to 11-year-old children and their families, this is a huge relief,” incoming families minister Anne Spiegel told the Funke media group in an interview published Sunday.

Other German states, including North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Bavaria, will also make shots available to the 5-11 age group in the coming days.

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