The move was announced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in Berlin on Thursday following consultations with the country’s 16 state governments.
It coincides with the expected approval of the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15 from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Friday.
Children in this age group would be able to receive a jab both from general practitioners and vaccination centres.
Monday June 7th was already set as the date to end vaccine prioritisation for all adults in Germany.
Each of Germany’s 16 states would then be tasked with making offers to young people to get vaccinated, whether at official centres, GP practices, or through setting up vaccination programmes, for example at schools.
Vaccine offers by the end of August
A debate over when children and young people can receive their Covid vaccination has been raging over the last few days across Germany.
A few figures in the medical community have said there is not yet enough evidence to support vaccines and their potential side effects in younger people.
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) on Thursday said that getting the vaccine would be an individual decision for parents, doctors and children themselves.
This jab has so far been approved for people aged 16 and over in the EU. US regulators earlier this month authorised the vaccine for children in this age group, and it is now widely available.
Pending the EMA decision, the German government wants to make sure everyone aged 12-15 is offered a jab by the end of August.
This is to ensure that schools can get back to some kind of normality after the summer vacations, which end in August or September depending on the state.
However, Thursday’s federal-state resolution stated that safe school operations should be ensured, regardless of how many pupils take advantage of a vaccine offer.
“The main message to parents is: there will be no compulsory vaccinations,” Merkel told reporters.
Schools would not require pupils to be vaccinated, she said. “And it would be totally wrong to think you can only go on holiday with a vaccinated child.”
Inoculating children is seen as a key step towards achieving herd immunity in the fight against the pandemic.
After a much-criticised slow start, the coronavirus inoculation campaign in Europe’s top economy has kicked into high gear in recent weeks.
More than 40 percent of adults have now had their first jab, and 15 percent are fully vaccinated.
The accelerated pace, along with rapid testing and widespread shutdowns, has helped break a third coronavirus wave and allowed Germany to relax restrictions.
“This is a great success,” Merkel said. But she called on Germans not to ditch precautions such as social distancing, mask wearing, and airing out rooms.
“The pandemic is not over.”