Photo Credit: CDC / Unsplash
Boy receiving an unidentified vaccine in the United States.

Israel’s Health Ministry has given a green light to administration of the COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech) to young children with underlying health conditions, ages five and up.

The move follows approval by the ministry for administration of the vaccine to children ages 12 to 15.

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Data provided to Israel from Pfizer indicates the dose for the 5 to 11 age group is 1.0 ml instead of 3.0 ml used for older Israelis.

“Vaccination of children ages 5 to 11 years is not indicated at this time,” said a letter from the Health Ministry to medical personnel throughout Israel.

However, “There are special situations in which vaccination can be considered at these ages. This is when there is a high probability of serious illness and even mortality following infection with the novel coronavirus,” the letter said.

Only Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is approved for use in younger children, the ministry noted.

The HMO must submit its recommendation for approval to the Ministry of Health, documenting the appropriate vaccine and dose, and must document a discussion with the child’s parents in which the doctor explains the considerations that went into the recommendation based on the information available at the time.

In cases where approval is given by the Health Ministry, the final decision on whether to vaccinate remains “in the hands of the parents,” the ministry letter emphasized.

The administration of the vaccine includes registration and follow-up according to the data specified in the vaccination briefing.

“It should be emphasized that the policy at this stage to minimize permits for individual vaccination in 5-to-11-year-old children limits them to those who are maximum risk,” the ministry wrote.

The situations in which COVID-19 vaccination may be considered for young children ages five and up are as follows:

  • Those with severe obesity with a BMI above 99 percent for age and sex
  • Those with neurodevelopmental disorders, including seizures and congenital syndromes
  • Those with severe chronic lung disease
  • Those with active malignant conditions
  • Those with heart failure or pulmonary hypertension
  • Those with sickle cell anemia
  • Those in a severe immunosuppressive state, including:
    • A combined immune deficiency of B and T cells (ie: SCID)
    • Undergoing chemotherapy for cancer (cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate
    • An HIV infection when the CDR+ count is less than 15 percent
    • Receiving steroid therapy, prednisone at a dose of 20 mg per day for at least two weeks, or equivalent
    • Methotrexate treatment at a dose <4.0 mg per kg per week
    • Azothiaprine treatment at a dose <5.1 mg / kg per day
    • Receiving immunomodulatory therapy with golimumab, adalimumab, certolizumab, infliximab, ethane prescriptions, TNF-α antibodies
    • Rituximab treatment such as anti-B monoclonal antibodies
    • Alemtuzumab such as) anti-T lymphocyte monoclonal antibodies
    • At least three months after a solid organ transplant, and/or at least three months after a bone marrow transplant.

“The recommendation for approval is individual and relates to a specific patient, according to his medical and personal circumstances, and does not automatically apply to any risk group to which one belongs,” the letter said.

Dr. Emilia Ennis, director of the ministry’s Epidemiological Division, signed the letter.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.