Berlin (dpa) – A few weeks before the end of the school holidays in many states, the Permanent Vaccination Commission (Stiko) is calling for general corona vaccinations for all children from 12 years old.

After careful evaluation of the new data, it has now come to the assessment “that, according to the current state of knowledge, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk of very rare vaccine side effects,” the independent commission announced Monday. The federal and state governments welcomed the vote as an important reference point for youth and parents and promised that vaccination would be offered as soon as possible. But there was also criticism of the Stiko and of political pressure on the committee.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) spoke of good news: “Parents and young people therefore have a clear recommendation to opt for the vaccination.” There is sufficient vaccine for all age groups. “If desired, another vaccination can take place this week.” Federal Family Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) said there was now “even more certainty when deciding on the vaccination”. At the same time, she emphasized: “The vaccination remains voluntary and should not be made compulsory to attend school.”

Until now, Stiko generally does not recommend vaccinations for children between the ages of 12 and 17 – only if there is a higher risk of serious corona treatments, for example from diseases such as diabetes. However, according to Stiko, they were also possible as an individual decision by children and parents with medical advice. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 24.3 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds have already been vaccinated against corona at least once and 15.1 percent have been fully vaccinated. The vaccines from Biontech and Moderna are approved from the age of 12.

Meanwhile, potential risks of vaccination in the age group could be estimated more reliably, de Stiko said Monday. She referred to nearly ten million vaccinated children and adolescents in the US vaccination program. Stiko boss Thomas Mertens recently justified the reluctance with insufficient data on the safety of vaccination in adolescents. The main focus was on the possible consequences of myocardial inflammation in vaccinated humans. De Stiko spoke on Monday about mostly uncomplicated processes. The official recommendation text is not yet available, changes are still possible in a coordination process with the federal states and departments.

In early August, the federal and state health ministers agreed on a wider range of vaccinations for children – for example in regional vaccination centers. The chairman of the heads of state, Klaus Holetschek (CSU) from Bavaria, called the decision of the Stiko an important signal to parents and the young people themselves: “Get yourself and your children vaccinated now!” The more children are vaccinated, “the safer we can start next school year”. Katrin Göring-Eckardt, leader of the Green Group, told the German news agency: “Now we need speed to create easily accessible vaccination offers for schoolchildren, who are then also open to their parents.” Education and information campaigns must now also keep pace.

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach said the Stiko had taken a long time to make their decision. “She made it difficult for many children over the age of 12 to get vaccinated. I welcome the move all the more now,” he told the “Rheinische Post”. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) wrote on Twitter: “Finally!”. The decision is now important for starting the school. “Unfortunately, we lost a lot of time,” he criticized. “The vaccination should now be offered all the more quickly.”

The FDP health expert in the Bundestag, Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, said the Stiko decision creates clarity for parents and children, as well as legal certainty for doctors. “The federal government should have waited for this result rather than proceed without coordination. This should just put pressure on the Stiko.” There is no corona vaccine available for children under 12 years of age.