More than a dozen provincial-level regions across China started rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged between 3 and 11 this week, including Beijing and Shanghai, and the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, local health authorities said.
According to local health commissions, the process for children to receive the vaccine should be supervised and approved by their guardians after examination by a doctor. Authorities said healthy children aged between 3 and 11 without contraindications for the COVID-19 vaccines can receive jabs.
Approved vaccines for children are inactivated vaccines from companies including Sinopharm, Sinovac and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.
Schools and kindergartens will organize the vaccinations. Guardians are required to accompany children to receive the jabs in health centers in communities.
According to disease control departments in multiple areas, clinical data showed that vaccination for children between 3 and 17 is as safe as that for adults.
Based on analysis of serious side-effects, the incidence of adverse reactions in children and adolescents is no higher than that of adults, Wang Huaqing, chief immunization expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at an earlier news conference.
The capital started vaccinating children on Thursday. Children who have been infected with COVID-19 can receive the jab six months after the infection. The center's vaccination coordination group reminded guardians to learn about vaccination and avoid children receiving jabs when they are tired or hungry.
Shanghai has offered vaccinations for children since Thursday, and Zhejiang province began giving COVID-19 vaccinations to children aged 3 and above on Tuesday.
Xia Shichang, deputy director of the provincial health commission, said the province has expanded its COVID-19 vaccination program to cover children from the age of 3, rather than limiting vaccination to those aged 12 and above, as was previously the case.
Local health authorities plan to finish the first round of shots before Nov 20 and the second round before Dec 20.
In Jiangsu province, vaccination for children from ages 3 to 11 will be carried out in November and December, according to Zhu Min, deputy director of the provincial health commission.
Although the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism had not yet announced the initiation of vaccinations across the country as of Thursday, Cui Gang, an official from the National Health Commission, said authorities have approved the use of inactivated vaccinations for emergency use among children from 3 to 17.
As of Thursday, more than 1.06 billion people in China had completed COVID-19 vaccination and 2.25 billion vaccine jabs had been administered.