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NEWSLETTER

When will Switzerland start vaccinating children?

Switzerland needs vaccinated children to reach herd immunity. As more Swiss cantons are opening their vaccination programmes to 16-year-olds, will younger children be next in line, and if so, when?

When will Switzerland start vaccinating children?
Young girl getting a Covid shot. Photo by Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is said to be approving Pfizer / Biontech vaccination for 12 to 15 year olds in the next few days, American media reported.

What about the approval of the vaccine for this age group in Switzerland?

“We are doing everything in our power to ensure that vaccination is also accessible for children and adolescents as soon as possible”, said Anne Lévy, director of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

The current, though still tentative, plan is to immunise children aged 12 to 16 from July and those under 12 from year-end. However, Christoph Berger, president of the Federal Commission for Vaccination Issues, said that he is not expecting approval for children under six before the spring of 2022.

After weeks of deliberation, the Swiss government confirmed in early June that children will be vaccinated from mid-July onwards. 

Vaccinations will start at the age of 12 and will not require parental consent. 

Why was there uncertainty about the timing of the inoculation programme for children?

That’s because vaccines for kids under the age of 12 have to be tested separately from those for adults, as children have a different immune response than older people, Watson news outlet reported.

A distinction also has to be made in regards to different age groups. For instance, children under five may react differently than older kids.

It is likely that children will simply be given a lower dose, but the exact quantity is still being researched.

So far, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorised for use in young people, but the company has not yet asked for approval to be used in Switzerland for that age group.

However, the approval process would be relatively quick and easy, according to Lukas Jaggi, a spokesperson for the drug authorisation agency, Swissmedic: Pfizer only has to apply for an extension of the already existing authorisation.

Why is it important to vaccinate children and adolescents?

Health experts believe that achieving herd immunity — with about 80 percent of the population developing antibodies to the virus — is only feasible if all age groups are vaccinated.

For  Switzerland this means that 6.9 million people out of the total population of 8.6 million have to develop antibodies against the coronavirus either through vaccination or infection, though this proportion could increase with new mutations.

Children and young people make up 18 percent of the population.

READ MORE: Vaud first Swiss canton to start vaccinating all members of public

Member comments

  1. In Valais they haven’t yet started vaccinating adults below 65 years old (unless they are at risk).

    We can register to be informed when the appointment booking system will open to us, but not sign of it yet.

  2. Yes, let’s get a few under 65 adults done first! Getting a little ahead of themselves.

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NEWSLETTER

Reader question: What proof of vaccination will Switzerland require for Americans and Brits to enter?

Starting on June 28th, vaccinated travellers from third countries, including Americans, will be allowed to come to Switzerland without having to show a negative Covid test or quarantine upon arrival.

Reader question: What proof of vaccination will Switzerland require for Americans and Brits to enter?
Vaccination in a foreign country can be proven with an official certificate. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP

“In view of the positive developments in the epidemiological situation and the progress made in the field of vaccination, the Federal Council is proposing to greatly relax the prescriptions and health measures at the border for people entering Switzerland”, authorities announced on June 11th.

They specified, however, that final decision on this move will be made on June 23rd.

READ MORE: Switzerland set to reopen its borders to vaccinated Americans

However, if the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths will remain the same as now — or, better yet, drop further — vaccinated tourists from outside the Schengen zone will be able to come to Switzerland before the end of June.

What proof of vaccination will those travellers have to show to enter the country?

Basically, the requirements for residents of third nations are the same as for people coming from the EU/EFLA states.

The proof showing you have been fully vaccinated should be an official document issued by a recognised health authority in your country of residence.

The document, which can be either on your smart phone or in paper form, must have your name and date of birth, dates when both doses were administered (or a single dose in case of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine), as well as the name and batch number of the vaccine.

READ MORE: Reader question: How do I prove in Switzerland that I’ve been vaccinated abroad?

Another important requirement is that the vaccine you received is authorised for use in the European Union and, therefore, in Switzerland.

So far, the European Medicines Agency has approved vaccines from Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.

In addition to these two, Switzerland will also accept the Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac for entry. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the travel should take place at least 14 days after the second dose, which is when immunity to coronavirus is believed to fully kick in.

The same rules apply to people coming from the so-called “high-variant” countries (VOC) which at the moment include Brazil, Canada, India, South Africa, Nepal, and the UK.

They can enter Switzerland if fully vaccinated with proper proof.

Otherwise, they must present a negative PCR or antigen test taken no more than 72 days before arriving in Switzerland.

They will then have to quarantine for 10 or seven days.

However, Russia’s Sputnik V, as well as China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines have not received European or Swiss approval to date.

Does this mean travellers from Russia, China, and other countries that don’t use EU-approved vaccines can’t come to Switzerland?

They can still come, but will be required to present a negative PCR or antigen test taken no more than 72 hours before arriving in Switzerland.

They will then have to quarantine for 10 or seven days.

This rule pertains not only to foreign visitors, but also to Swiss citizens and permanent residents returning from abroad.

Will the Covid certificate be sufficient proof?

If it is internationally recognized, which means valid in the EU and Switzerland, then yes.

Switzerland’s certificate will be ready by July 1st. However, not all countries may have these immunity passports ready for use before you travel abroad.

If this is the case, then a proper vaccine document, as mentioned above, will suffice.

READ MORE: How to get Switzerland’s Covid-19 health pass

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