Israel approves coronavirus vaccines for younger children

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel on Sunday approved giving the COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 5 and 11.

The Health Ministry decision follows approval by U.S. health authorities earlier this month to OK the vaccine for the same age group.

Israel was one of the first countries in the world to carry out a broad vaccination campaign in its adult and adolescent population early this year, and it became the first country to carry out a widespread booster campaign over the summer.

Experts say Israel’s aggressive vaccination efforts have helped curb the spread of the coronavirus and bring a recent wave of the delta variant under control. But it has seen the coronavirus continue to spread among unvaccinated populations, including children.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said its director general, Dr. Nachman Ash, accepted a recommendation from expert advisers to inoculate children with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It said a majority of advisers believed the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.

The ministry said it would announce a date for beginning the campaign in the coming days. Israeli media said the vaccinations of a child-sized dose of the vaccine were expected to start next week.