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British Regulator Approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for 12-Year-Olds

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A girl gets a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Bucharest, Romania, June 2, 2021. Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on Friday approved the vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.

Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on Friday approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.

The decision follows similar approvals by U.S. and European Union regulators.

FILE - Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock delivers a speech on the COVID-19 vaccine program at the Jenner institute in Oxford, Britain, June 2, 2021.
FILE - Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock delivers a speech on the COVID-19 vaccine program at the Jenner institute in Oxford, Britain, June 2, 2021.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock welcomed the news Friday and said he will wait for clinical advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, or JCVI, regarding how the vaccine should be administered. He said Britain should have enough supply of the vaccine to inoculate the nation's adolescents.

Meanwhile, U.S. Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky on Friday urged parents of adolescents in the United States to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible, following the release of a CDC report showing a spike in hospitalizations among 12- to 17-year-olds earlier between January and April this year.

FILE - Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 18, 2021.
FILE - Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 18, 2021.

The study indicated one third of those hospitalizations were intensive care patients and five percent of those patients had to be put on ventilators. Walensky said the figures saddened her and show that even young patients can get seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Separately, the World Health Organization's Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, told reporters Thursday the threat of a third wave of COVID-19 in Africa is "real and rising."

She said that while many countries outside Africa have now vaccinated their high-priority groups and, in many areas, are on to children, "African countries are unable to even follow up with second doses for high-risk groups." She urged "countries that have reached a significant vaccination coverage to release doses and keep the most vulnerable Africans out of critical care."

And in India, the health ministry says it has ordered 300 million doses of an unapproved vaccine at a cost of over $200 million to be produced by Hyderabad-based Biological-E. The vaccine is currently in Phase 3 of the clinical trials.

FILE - A man stands next to the body of his wife, who died due to breathing difficulties, inside an emergency ward of a government-run hospital, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, India, May 11, 2021.
FILE - A man stands next to the body of his wife, who died due to breathing difficulties, inside an emergency ward of a government-run hospital, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, India, May 11, 2021.

India's Supreme Court has criticized the country's vaccine program, which has left much of the country's massive population unvaccinated.

On Friday, India's health ministry said that it had recorded 132,364 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24-hour period and 2,713 deaths. India has reported 28.5 million COVID-19 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Only the U.S. has more infections, at more than 33 million.

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