The European Medicines Agency approved on Friday the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, in what the drug regulator called “an important step forward in the fight against the pandemic” in a statement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for that age group earlier this month after clinical trials showed it was safe.
The E.M.A.’s opinion will now be sent to the European Commission, the bloc’s administrative arm, for final approval, which it is expected to do swiftly. It will then be up to the national governments of the member countries to decide if and when to inoculate children, the regulator said.
Anticipating the vaccine’s approval, Germany announced on Thursday that it would open appointments to children in that age range starting June 7.
The European Union had a slow start to its vaccination campaign, with shortages of doses delaying the rollout in many member countries. The bloc’s efforts have gained pace in recent weeks, and now appear to be on track to get at least one dose to 70 percent of its adult population by the end of June.
The Pfizer vaccine has already been authorized in the bloc for those who are 16 and older. The doses for children will be the same as for adults, with two shots administered three weeks apart.