Indonesians as young as three could be given their COVID-19 shots, the Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM) said, with the regulators keeping a close eye on China’s research into the safety of its vaccine on children.
China has given emergency use authorization (EUA) for the use of the COVID-19 vaccine by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac on children aged three to 17. The country’s mass vaccination drive is currently open for those aged 18 and above, and health authorities may opt to revise its inoculation strategy by taking advantage of the EUA and expanding the eligibility list to include small children.
Indonesia has so far received 92 million vaccine doses for its mass vaccination program, 81.5 million of which were from bulk orders from Sinovac. BPOM says it’s open to administering the vaccine to children.
“[We will administer to small children and teens] as soon as we receive the data from Sinovac’s [clinical trials on children],” BPOM head Penny Lukito said today.
BPOM did not indicate that it will carry out its own clinical trials of the vaccine on children.
The Health Ministry, meanwhile, said it will administer Sinovac’s vaccine to children upon receiving authorization from BPOM.
In China, three to 17-year-old participants in clinical trials mostly reported mild adverse reactions to the vaccine. Preliminary results also showed that the vaccine could trigger an immune response in the participants.
Vaccinating children could be key in Indonesia’s insistence on reopening schools when the new academic year begins in July.