Vaccinations of school-age children for COVID-19


COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) have been granted marketing authorisation for 12- to 15-year-old children. With the increasing spread of the Delta variant, it is appropriate to offer vaccination to everyone who can receive it according to marketing authorisation, in order to minimise the spread and impact of the pandemic on individuals, families and society. Manufacturers’ research on the vaccination of younger children, i.a. what dose to use for children under 12 years of age, is beginning (August 2021), but until those studies deliver results, it is not appropriate to vaccinate younger children.

It is preferable to use the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for this age group in Iceland. The supply of this vaccine is the largest, the experience of using it for the age group is greater than with Moderna and it is easier to transport and use in smaller places all over the country, as there are fewer doses in each bottle than with Moderna.

Side effects / safety of the vaccine in children:

The study behind the marketing authorisation for this age group involved the vaccination of approx. 2,000 children. The results on adverse reactions to vaccinations with this vaccine among almost 9 million children aged 12–17 years in the United States have now been published. It states that about 1/1000 children of this age get side effects that are reported to the authorities in a similar way as is reported to the Icelandic Medicines Control Agency. Thereof, about 90% of them are not serious side effects (such as fainting), but about 9/100,000 vaccinated children get a serious side effect, i.e. a side effect that requires a medical examination. It has previously been reported that the incidence of common side effects (such as fever and flu-like symptoms or localised discomfort) is similar to that of adults. Serious side effects include pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) and myocarditis. These are rare side effects following vaccination with mRNA vaccines and are more common in younger people (under 30 years of age) than in older people. Those who experience such side effects need the help of a healthcare professional, and these are therefore considered serious side effects, but most recover without significant treatment, with rest; others may need anti-inflammatory drugs or other treatment, in or outside the hospital.

The incidence rate of anaphylaxis after vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine appears to be ten times more common than with other vaccines, over 1/100,000 doses, but the estimated rate of anaphylaxis is usually 1/million doses for other vaccines (varies a little depending on the vaccine and country). There is no evidence that anaphylaxis is more common in children than in other age groups.

The relation between vaccinations with this vaccine and menstrual disruption in women in the genesial cycle is being examined in Iceland and elsewhere. Among girls 12–15 years old, there are both girls who have not gone through the first menstrual period and girls who have had a regular menstrual cycle for a while. If there is a link between the vaccine and these complaints, it is possible that the menstrual cycle of girls receiving the vaccine will be disrupted. Girls who do not have a regular menstrual cycle or have not started menstruating before being vaccinated may be less likely than adult women to understand what is normal and what is not, so it is important that parents, school nurses and other healthcare professionals are willing to advise girls on these concerns. Not enough time has passed since vaccinations for women in the genesian cycle began on a large scale to know the extent of the relation to vaccinations and how long these effects can last.

Children aged 12–15 are generally more likely than other age groups to faint after vaccination. It is very important that the conditions at the vaccination site are such that the children can be comfortable for at least 15 min. after the vaccination and that their well-being is closely monitored, as they may not have the opportunity to report any discomfort before losing consciousness. It is preferable that children who have had a previous history of fainting, such as at a blood test or other vaccinations, have the opportunity to be lying down when vaccinated for COVID-19.

The Icelandic Medicines Control Agency, the Chief Epidemiologist and the Directorate of Health will continue to closely monitor information from abroad regarding the side effects and safety of COVID-19 vaccines and especially the side effects reports in connection with COVID-19 vaccinations in this age group in Iceland.

Implementation of vaccinations for children:

The supply of vaccine available in the country and plans for shipments in the coming weeks indicate that it will be possible to complete at least one dose for everyone who requests it in August if the implementation is successful. No notification will be sent from the vaccination system, but each healthcare centre area will advertise when a certain age group can attend and where, divided according to the birth month where needed due to large numbers in that group. The guardian or his/her representative (who has reached the age of 18) must accompany the child to the vaccination, both to indicate consent for vaccination and to support the child through the vaccination and monitor their well-being during the waiting period after vaccination.

Information on the implementation on the healthcare centre’s website:

Greater Reykjavík Area

HSS (Suðurnes)

HSU (South Iceland)

HSA (East Iceland)

HSN (North Iceland)

HVEST (Westfjords)

HVE (West Iceland)

News article on the vaccination of children

Information for young people about COVID-19 vaccinations 


Fyrst birt 12.08.2021

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