Covid jabs possible for children from January
The Swiss health authorities have recommended extending anti-Covid vaccinations to children aged between five and 11.
The statement by the Federal Office of Public Health and the government advisory commission for vaccination on Tuesday came four days after the medical regulator, Swissmedic, gave the green light to Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine.
Both the commission and the health office said the recommendation applied particularly to children who already face serious health risks due to a chronic condition.
The recommendation also applies to children of this age group who have recovered from an infection with Covid-19 and who have close contact with vulnerable people.
The vaccines will be available from the beginning of January 2022, according to Virginie Masserey of the health office.
Christoph Berger, president of the Federal Vaccination Commission, said the authorisation was based on clinical studies carried out with children in the United States.
The health situation in Swiss hospitals remains tense, according to Masserey, who said that latest statistics suggest an increase of hospitalisations is likely in the next few weeks.
However, the upward trend of new daily Covid cases appears to be slowing after a steady rise over the past eight weeks.
Experts say it is too early to say whether the peak of the latest wave of infections has been reached: the seven-day average of new daily cases currently stands at 9,140.
Two-thirds of the Swiss population have so far received two anti-Covid jabs and just over 47% of the population over the age of 65 have had a third, booster vaccination.
The main teachers’ associations have called for improved coordination of hygiene and protection measures across the country ahead of an expected government decision on Friday about tightening of rules.
The associations urge national and cantonal authorities to streamline regulations, notably around the use of CO2 sensors and air filters in classrooms, as well as preventive testing programmes and the wearing of face masks.
The 26 cantonal authorities traditionally have wide-ranging autonomy on education and health issues, something which has prompted controversy about regional differences in approaching the pandemic.
Faced with the current situation, the government last week proposed two possible scenarios ahead of the expected decision on Friday.
One scenario proposes limiting entry to indoor public places to vaccinated people and those who have recovered from an infection. The other foresees the temporary closure of public places where wearing a mask is not possible.
There have also been calls for a re-introduction of the work-from-home rule.
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