The European Medicines Agency on Friday recommended the use of the coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech be expanded to children ages 12 to 15, a choice that provides younger and less at-risk populations across the continent access to some COVID-19 shot for the First-time

The vaccine was the first one granted consent across the European Union as it was licensed to be used in anyone 16 and over in December. Thus far, about 173 million doses of the shot have been administered in the 27-nation bloc, about three quarters of the total given.

“Extending the protection of a safe and effective vaccine within this younger population is an important step forward in the struggle against this pandemic,” explained Marco Cavaleri, who heads the EMA body which examined the vaccine.

The EU regulator had received the required information to authorize the vaccine for younger adolescents and found it to be highly effective against infection, he said.

In a study involving 2,000 adolescents in the USA, none of individuals that received the vaccine obtained COVID-19, compared with 16 in a control group who received a placebo, said Cavaleri.

“The vaccine was well tolerated and the negative impact inside this age group were very much similar (to) what we’ve observed in young adults rather than raising major concern at this point in time,” he added.

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The EMA decision needs to be rubber-stamped from the European Commission, and individual federal regulators must decide whether the vaccine will be administered to children under 16.

The recommendation follows similar decisions by regulators in Canada and the U.S. last month, as rich nations gradually approach their schooling targets for adults and seem to immunize as many people as you can.

Researchers will continue to track the shot’s long term security and security in the kids for another 2 decades.