More than 100 countries around the world have extended their COVID-19 vaccination campaigns to children.
According to a report by UNICEF, which analyzed 115 million confirmed COVID-19 cases from 105 countries, people under 20 are responsible for 16 percent of the reported cases.
While many children who do contract COVID have few to no symptoms, those with underlying health conditions may be at greater risk of developing serious illnesses.
Three vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) are administered to children in several countries: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Sinopharm injection and the Sinovac vaccine.
While some countries give children and adolescents the full two-dose course of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, others give a single dose.
According to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, there are 20 vaccine candidates in clinical trials for those under 18.
China has started vaccinating children three years of age and older with its own CoronaVac vaccine, manufactured by Sinovac Biotech.
Taiwan has temporarily suspended second doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to children and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 due to concerns about the risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) , according to the media reports.
In August, India’s drug regulator Zydus approved Cadila’s needle-free ZyCoV-D vaccine for those aged 12 and over. It is the world’s first DNA platform vaccine for COVID-19, but its deployment has not yet begun. Bharat Biotech, the manufacturers of the domestically produced Covaxin vaccine, have asked for permission for emergency use in children aged 12 and older, but regulators have yet to announce a decision. Vaccination for some groups of children could begin in January, news reports say.
Pakistan currently administers the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to children over 15, and the Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines to children over 12.
South Africa began immunizing children aged 12 to 17 in October. The government aims to vaccinate some six million adolescents in this age group with a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Morocco, one of the first African countries to offer shots to children and adolescents, began vaccinating those between the ages of 12 and 17 in September. It uses the Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinopharm vaccines with the aim of immunizing at least three million children.
In May, the European Union’s health regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), approved the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for use in children over 12 years of age.
In Germany, as of November 23, about 45 percent of the age group 12 to 17 were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
In Norway, which is not part of the EU, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has been approved for those between the ages of 12 and 15. However, health authorities have halted the rollout of second-dose drugs, in part due to a rare side effect associated with heart inflammation is linked.
In the UK, which is not part of the EU, 12- to 15-year-olds are offered a single Pfizer BioNTech test.
The EU regulator is evaluating an application to extend the use of the vaccine to children aged five to 11. It is expected to make an announcement next month.
In September, Cuba began rolling out vaccines for children as young as two years old, with the domestically manufactured Soberana-02 and Soberana Plus vaccines.
In Venezuela, authorities announced in early November that vaccinations were underway for children as young as two years old, with the Cuban Soberana-02 shot.
Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa has approved the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine in children aged 12 to 17 and the government has encouraged local authorities to prioritize those children and adolescents with comorbidities.
The United Arab Emirates began its vaccination campaign in August in children aged three to 11 with the Synopharm vaccine. In November, Emirati authorities approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11.
In October, Bahrain approved the use of the Sinopharm shot for children between the ages of three and 11. This month, it approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech for children ages five to 11.
In May, US health authorities approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for use in children aged five to 17 years.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, represent children 16.9 percent of all confirmed cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In the week ending Nov. 18, children accounted for 25.1 percent of reported cases. Children make up 22.2 percent of the U.S. population.