Nigeria approves COVID-19 vaccines for 16-year olds on educational grounds

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) says persons aged 15 and 17 years can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine if required for educational purposes.

“The NPHCDA has given a waiver for persons aged 16 and 17 to receive COVID-19 vaccines if required for educational purposes,” the agency said in an advisory.

The agency had said the vaccines can only be administered to persons aged 18 years and older including pregnant women and lactating mothers, but the new waiver increases the number of eligible persons.

Following the rise in the number of child infections, some countries have given emergency use authorization for mRNA vaccines for use in the adolescent age group (aged 12-17 years). In November 2021, one stringent regulatory authority approved the mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 for use in children aged 5-11.

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Several risk factors for severe COVID-19 in children have been reported recently, including older age, obesity, and preexisting conditions. The preexisting conditions associated with higher risk of severe COVID-19 include type 2 diabetes, asthma, heart and pulmonary diseases, and neurologic, neurodevelopmental

One systematic review suggests that there may be larger impact of paediatric COVID-19 related fatality in low to middle income countries versus high income countries

However, in the context of ongoing global COVID-19 vaccine supply constraints, the World Helath Organisation advises that focus of immunization programs must remain on protecting sub-populations at highest risk of hospitalizations and deaths.

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