The Public Health Agency of Sweden
Updated 28 June 2021

Children and adolescents – vaccination against COVID-19

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are in full swing in Sweden and within the EU. In Sweden, adolescents aged 16 and over are now also being offered vaccination against COVID-19. Children aged 12-15 years with an increased risk of severe viral infections are also being offered vaccination.

Adolescents aged 16-17 are being offered vaccination

When the COVID-19 vaccinations started, plans were made to vaccinate all people aged 18 and over. Now there are both approved vaccines against COVID-19 that have been approved for use on adolescents and more knowledge about the benefits of the vaccine. Therefore, adolescents aged 16-17 are now being offered vaccination to both protect themselves against COVID-19 and to further reduce the spread of infection in society.

In Sweden, vaccination against COVID-19 is voluntary and costs nothing. Adolescents aged 16–17 years may start to be vaccinated once those who are older have been offered vaccines. This means that these vaccinations are likely to start sometime in August 2021.

Children 12-15 years of age with certain medical conditions are being offered vaccination against COVID-19

The Public Health Agency of Sweden is also offering vaccination against COVID-19 for certain groups of patients in the 12–15 age group. These are children with certain medical conditions and with an increased risk of becoming seriously ill from a viral infection. The medical conditions in question are listed on the website of the Swedish Paediatric Society.

The Swedish Paediatric Society (in Swedish).

Children and COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infectious viral disease. It is primarily dangerous for those over the age of 65 and for those who have other diseases that make them particularly susceptible to getting sick.

Children and adolescents usually experience mild symptoms of COVID-19. However, children may suffer from a rare and severe form of hyperinflammation (MIS-C) as well as long-term symptoms after falling ill with COVID-19.

Children do not infect other people with COVID-19 as easily as adults do. But the higher the age, the higher the degree of transmission. When it comes to their ability to transmit the disease, adolescents aged 16-17 are similar to adults.

The effects of the pandemic on children

The pandemic has limited the daily lives of children and adolescents. For example, many children have been unable to participate in their usual sports activities, and some children have suffered from mental illness. For upper-secondary school students, the pandemic has led to long-term distance education, and schools have also been closed for short periods in connection with disease outbreaks. Although the risk of developing a serious case of COVID-19 disease is low among adolescents, the other consequences of the pandemic are significant.

Approved vaccines for children

In May 2021, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine for children aged 12–15 years. The vaccine has been approved for use on adolescents aged 16 and older since December 2020.

Studies indicate that the Comirnaty vaccine is highly effective and safe for use on children aged 12 and older. However, experience with vaccinations in the 12–15 age group is limited. On the other hand, experience regarding adolescents aged 16-17 does exist; all over the world, many in this age group have now been vaccinated.

The Swedish Medical Products Agency and the EMA follow and analyse data regarding the possible side effects of all vaccines against COVID-19. Decisions regarding vaccination may be amended if safety risks are observed.

Learn more on the website of the Swedish Medical Products Agency.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden is closely monitoring the development of knowledge about the vaccination of children against COVID-19.