Japan to allow Pfizer vaccine for 12-year-olds

Japan's health ministry has decided to expand the use of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine in its public inoculation program to include children aged 12 to 15.

The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, is one of those being used in the ministry's inoculation program.

The developers say they confirmed the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine in people aged 12 to 15 in clinical tests in the United States.

After receiving their data, the ministry decided last week to lower the age limit for the public inoculation program, and the government's advisory panel approved the plan on Monday.

Parental consent will be required for adolescents aged 12 to 15 to be inoculated. The health ministry plans to inform local governments of the decision soon.

Participants in Wednesday's panel meeting discussed whether to hold collective inoculations of middle- and high-school students at schools.

A health ministry official told the meeting the ministry would carefully consider the possibility of such group inoculations. The official cited concern that peer pressure could affect decisions about getting the jab.