Pfizer vaccine
Pfizer vaccine Kobi Richter/TPS

The European Union (EU) on Thursday cleared Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged five to 11, AFP reported.

Only a small handful of countries had previously given the nod for coronavirus vaccinations in younger children, including the United States, Israel and Canada.

"I'm glad to tell you that Comirnaty from today has received approval for children five to 11 years of age," said Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), using the vaccine's brand name.

"This is based on a different dose in the one used in adults, essentially it's a much lower dose," he told an online public meeting.

The vaccine was already cleared for use in people aged 12 and over in the 27-nation EU.

Children aged five to 11 will be given one third of the dose that older people receive, with two injections, three weeks apart, the EMA said in a statement.

Health authorities say children make up an increasing proportion of new cases and hospitalizations in Europe, which is back at the center of the coronavirus pandemic.

While children with underlying health conditions were more likely to become ill, the majority of children in hospital with COVID were otherwise healthy, said Cavaleri.

In Israel, the official rollout for COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11 kicked off Tuesday morning.

Among those who were vaccinated on the first day was nine-year-old David Bennett, the youngest child of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his wife Gilat, who was accompanied by his father as he received his shot.

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