Vaccination offered to 12 and 15-year-olds

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The Norwegian Government has decided to offer a COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 12–15, in accordance with the recommendation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. This age group will initially be offered one vaccine dose.

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‘The professional advice is that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for children aged 12–15 in connection with vaccination. This was the deciding factor for the Norwegian Government. The infection rate among children and young people is high now, and vaccination will help give this group a more normal everyday life’, says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

‘We have good access to vaccines now, and some municipalities will be able to start vaccinating the 12 to 15-year-olds very soon. The pressure associated with vaccination, testing, and contact tracing varies in the different municipalities. It is up to each one to assess whether they can also begin vaccinating this age group at the same time’, states Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.

The vaccines have been approved for people aged 12 and above. Many countries, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, the USA, and Canada, have already offered vaccination to this age group.

The municipalities must establish a system for children born in 2009, so that children who have not turned 12 yet are given an appointment when they turn 12.

More knowledge required
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has pointed out that the vaccine is generally very effective for adolescents aged 12–15, and that it is probable that protection of this age group after one dose lasts longer than for adults. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health will perform new assessments following updates to the knowledge regarding serious side effects, development of illness, and the overall situation before making a recommendation as to whether to give a second dose to this age group.

The age group 12–15 consists of 260 000 people, or 4.8 per cent of the population. Children born in 2006–2008 attend lower secondary school, while children born in 2009 attend primary school.

The right to be heard
The final decision as to whether to vaccinate their children falls to the parents. Adolescents aged 12–15 are not medically of age, but need to be heard on decisions related to their own health. COVID-19 vaccination is contingent on consent from the person or persons who have parental responsibility.

‘The Norwegian Institute of Public Health will prepare relevant information for the 12 to 15-year-olds, in accordance with their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’, says Mr Høie.