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UK regulator approves Moderna COVID vaccine for children ages 12-17

A medical worker readies to administer the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to a Palestinian laborer at a temporary medical facility set up at a checkpoint on March 9, 2021, in Jerusalem. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
A medical worker readies to administer the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to a Palestinian laborer at a temporary medical facility set up at a checkpoint on March 9, 2021, in Jerusalem. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Britain’s medicines watchdog says it has approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 17, after previously giving the green light to Pfizer.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says in a statement that the shot is “safe and effective in this age group.” But it adds it would now be up to government advisory body the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) to recommend whether to start giving the vaccination.

Earlier this month, the UK government said it would offer shots to all 16- and 17-year-olds but, unlike other countries, held off rolling out the program to younger children. The JCVI said only 12- to 15-year-olds deemed vulnerable should receive a vaccine — a more cautious approach than in the United States and the European Union.

Israel — which is vaccinating all populations over age 12 — has a small stockpile of Moderna vaccine doses. It has so far been administering only the Pfizer vaccine to those under 18.

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