CORONAVIRUS/Second Pfizer-BNT dose for 12-17 age group to be decided in two weeks

11/10/2021 06:53 PM
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Students wait to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a school in Taipei on Oct. 1. CNA file photo
Students wait to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a school in Taipei on Oct. 1. CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 10 (CNA) Taiwan will decide in two weeks whether to allow the administering of second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to individuals aged 12-17, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Wednesday.

A plan to do so has been halted while a panel of experts review data on cases of myocarditis and pericarditis, Chen said at a legislative hearing.

Cases of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, which is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart, have been reported in recipients of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna brands, worldwide.

Although the cases are rare, they have occurred more often in adolescent males after receiving the second dose, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has been offered to the 12-17 age group in Taiwan. The rollout of first doses for 12-17 years old began on Sept. 22.

Due to concerns over myocarditis and pericarditis, those aged 12-17 are not currently allowed to get a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Taiwan, though those aged 18 and above can get their second jab four weeks after their first.

When asked about the issue on Wednesday, Chen said that Taiwan's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had decided to hold off on administering second doses to the 12-17 age group, and will meet in two weeks to make a final decision on the matter.

During these two weeks, experts on the committee will collect and review data on cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in other countries and Taiwan, Chen said.

So far, most countries have decided to administer second COVID-19 vaccine doses to adolescents, with only the United Kingdom and Hong Kong recommending against it, Chen said.

Among the 1.1 million individuals aged 12-17 who have gotten their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Taiwan, there have been 17 reported cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, Central Epidemic Command Center spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said Wednesday.

Fourteen of the patients were male and three were female, Chuang said.

Only three cases of myocarditis or pericarditis have been reported in other age groups of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients, which are three men aged 18-21, Chuang said.

Of these 20 patients, one is still in hospital, 18 have been discharged from hospital, and the last case was not hospitalized, Chuang said.

(By Chiang Hui-chung and Chiang Yi-ching)

Enditem/HY

(More AstraZeneca doses have been administered than have been officially received because medical workers can sometimes get more than the standard number of shots from a vial.)
(More AstraZeneca doses have been administered than have been officially received because medical workers can sometimes get more than the standard number of shots from a vial.)
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