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A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has arrived in Europe and inoculations for ages 12 to 17 have started in U.S. military communities. Appointments for the vaccine are filling up quickly, military officials said.

Mikayla Heineck/U.S. Air Force
A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has arrived in Europe and inoculations for ages 12 to 17 have started in U.S. military communities. Appointments for the vaccine are filling up quickly, military officials said. Mikayla Heineck/U.S. Air Force (Senior Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Coronavirus vaccinations for kids as young as 12 have started in U.S. military communities in Europe and shot clinics are planned at some schools to make vaccines more accessible to students and families, officials said Friday.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in theater last week and appointments for the first of two doses for 12- to 17- year-olds are filling up quickly, medical officials said.

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on Friday opened additional appointments for Monday and Tuesday, said Gino Mattorano, a spokesman for Regional Health Command Europe.

Appointments also were booked for first doses this week at Kaiserslautern High School. As of Friday, there were still limited appointments available at Ramstein High School on Wednesday, Mattorano said.

Appointments may be booked online at https://informatics-stage.health.mil/COVAX/.

Parents must be present and sign a consent form for their child to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Either a passport or Defense Department ID card is also required. Students may get a first dose in Europe and a second dose in the U.S. if they are gone during the recommended second-dose window of 21 to 42 days, health officials said.

Some locations, such as Stuttgart, are hosting vaccination clinics for kids and adults, offering the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents and either the Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccines to eligible adults.

“We’re working towards making the vaccine as accessible as possible,” said Col. Elizabeth Erickson, acting command surgeon for U.S. European Command.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month expanded emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to children as young as 12. It had been authorized for 16 and over but was previously not available at U.S. bases in Europe.

The U.S. military in Europe received about 28,000 Pfizer doses last week, enough to give all eligible 12- to 17-year-olds in the command first and second doses, Erickson said.

Five installations that have the ultra-cold freezers required to store the vaccine received shipments. They include Naples, Sigonella and Vicenza in Italy; Rota in Spain; and in Germany, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe in Pirmasens.

The vaccine is being distributed to other medical clinics for short-term storage, Erickson said.

The Pfizer vaccine is being offered only to ages 12 to 17 at European bases, she said.

So far, about 190,000 first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in Europe, Erickson said.

“Our current number of active cases (of coronavirus infections) is the lowest they’ve been since August 2020,” Erickson said.

It’s an encouraging downtrend she attributes to more people getting vaccinated.

“These vaccines are really quite remarkable in their efficacy and their safety,” she said.

svan.jennfer@stripes.com

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