FOR MEMBERS

Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines for children in Switzerland

A child waits to be vaccinated against Covid-19
Switzerland will start vaccinating children against Covid-19 from January onwards. Photo: Andrej Ivanov / AFP
Switzerland has approved Covid vaccinations for children aged five to 11. Here’s what you need to know.

Late on Friday, December 10th, Swiss medicines agency Swissmedic approved Covid vaccinations for children aged between 5 and 11. 

Previously, vaccination was only available for children aged 12 and up. 

Which vaccine will be administered? 

The Pfizer/Biontech vaccine has been approved for children. The studies into the Moderna vaccine are still continuing. 

Only the Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are administered in Switzerland. 

When will vaccinations start? 

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said on Monday vaccinations would most likely start for children in Switzerland from January.

As with previous rollouts of the vaccine, parents will presumably be able to register their children to get vaccinated in the weeks before the shots are administered.  

READ MORE: How can I get my children vaccinated against Covid in Switzerland?

As with all other Covid vaccinations, the rules are developed at a cantonal level, therefore the exact starting date will be different across the country. 

Lukas Engelberger, President of the Conference of Health Directors (GDK), confirmed on Monday that children could be vaccinated at vaccination centres as well as by doctors. 

How many children are now eligible? 

There are an estimated 600,000 children who will now be eligible for the vaccine, which is slightly lower than seven percent of the population. 

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.

Vaccination children would also help to preventing continued outbreaks in the country’s schools. 

Currently, 66.3 percent of the total population of Switzerland is fully vaccinated. 

COMPARED: How Covid vaccination rules for children differ around Europe

Is the vaccine safe for children? 

“Clinical trial results show that the vaccine is safe and effective in this age group,” it said in a statement.

The Comirnaty vaccine is administered in two doses of ten microgrammes three weeks apart.

An ongoing clinical trial of more than 1,500 people “shows that the Covid-19 vaccine offers almost complete protection against serious illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 5 to 11-year-olds”, it said.

“Side effects tended to occur less frequently than in adolescents or adults. They included pain at the injection site and tiredness, or less frequently headache, aching limbs or fever,” the agency added.

In the United States, around 2.5 million children have been vaccinated. So far, there have been no evidence of serious side effects.

What kind of side effects should parents expect? 

The side effects experienced by children are relatively mild in comparison to those commonly experienced by adults. 

According to Swissmedic, they most often include pain at the injection site, along with headaches and joint pain in rare examples. 

Do children get the same vaccine as adults? 

In a press conference on December 13th, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said children do not receive the exact same vaccination and dosage as adults.

“It is a vaccination that is specially produced for children to protect them from severe courses and long covid.”

Children receive a lower dose of the vaccine than adults.

The amount of this dose is not expressly specified and will be a decision made by the doctor on the basis of the child’s age and weight. 

Have any children been vaccinated in Switzerland yet? 

In Switzerland, children under 12 are given Covid vaccines only in special, paediatrician-approved cases involving compromised immunity or other serious health problems.

In total, 150 youngsters who met this criteria have been inoculated to date across Switzerland. 

Philippe Luchsinger, President of General Practitioners in Switzerland, said this takes place on an individual basis with regard to certain conditions

“There are individual inquiries from parents that are checked individually by paediatricians, especially in the case of children with high-risk diseases.

As The Local revealed in November, some parents in Switzerland had been taking their children to Austria and Germany to get Covid shots. 

Rudolf Hauri, President of the Swiss Association of Cantonal Doctors, said that doctors are more reluctant to vaccinate in opposition to official advice so in Switzerland. 

“There is great reluctance to take off-label vaccinations because without any data, you run a certain risk.”

Where children are vaccinated without official approval, parents are warned that they make the decision at their own risk. 

READ MORE: Swiss parents take children to Austria and Germany for Covid shots


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.