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FILE PHOTO: An empty street is seen as Netherlands has gone into lockdown as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Amsterdam, Netherlands December 15 2020, REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Netherlands will offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all children aged 12 to 17 in an effort to prevent a wave of infections due to new coronavirus mutations in the coming months.

The Dutch health council on Tuesday said children as young as 12 should be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, the injection which was authorised for use on children from the age of 12 by the European Commission in May.

“Taking everything into account we advise to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to all 12-to-17-year olds who want one”, the council said.

A vaccination can help protect children against rare cases in which a coronavirus infection makes them seriously ill, the health council said.

Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge last week already said he would prefer to have teenagers vaccinated, to prevent new, allied 39 possibly more contagious mutations of the virus to cause a wave of cases in the fall.

By offering vaccinations to children, the Netherlands would follow similar moves by the United States, Canada, France, Germany and other European countries who have already started injecting teenagers.

A total of around 15.3 million coronavirus vaccinations have been given in the Netherlands, with the country of 17.5 million en route to have offered at least one injection to all adults who want one by mid-July.

With the vaccinations gathering speed, coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have dropped to their lowest levels in nine months in recent weeks, following a huge wave of cases in the first four months of 2021.

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