Until now only people from age 18 onwards have been eligible for vaccines made available and increasingly promoted by the Armenian government.
Health Minister Anahit Avanesian announced the expansion of COVID-19 inoculations to younger people late on Thursday amid record numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths recorded by the authorities. She cited the European Medicines Agency’s recent recommendation to authorize Moderna’s Spikevax jab for minors aged 12 to 17.
Avanesian’s decision means that Armenians in that age group can be inoculated only with Spikevax.
Armenia received the first 50,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by the U.S. biotech company from Lithuania early this month. Avanesian said last week that another 620,000 doses of Spikevax will be donated by Moderna and the government of Norway.
The Armenian National Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday morning that at least 20 children have already been vaccinated.
They included a 12-year-old daughter of former Health Minister Arsen Torosian. Torosian posted on his Facebook page a photograph of her taking her first dose of Spikevax.
Less than 10 percent of Armenia’s population has been fully vaccinated so far, the lowest immunization rate in wider Europe. Health officials say this is one of the reasons for a steady rise in coronavirus cases that began in June and reached record levels this month.
Almost 2,100 new cases and 43 more deaths caused by COVID-19 were registered in the country of about 3 million on Thursday.
The official death toll from the disease thus rose to 6,232. The figure does not include 1,288 other infected people who the Armenian Ministry of Health says have died as a result of other, chronic conditions.
Earlier this week, the government ordered Armenian universities to revert to online classes and extended autumn holidays in schools until November 7. It is now considering delaying school classes by another week.