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UPDATE 1-Panama allows Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those as young as 12

(Adds ministry statement, background)

PANAMA CITY, July 12 (Reuters) - Panama’s Health Ministry said on Monday it would allow emergency use of the Pfizer Inc-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 for children aged 12 years and older but gave no details on when it would start.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is already authorized for those older than 16.

The ministry said in a statement that authorization of the vaccine for children from 12 to 16 was based on data showing it was effective for that age group as well as for adults.

Since January, Panama has administered 1.7 million doses of vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

The country plans to acquire a total of 9 million doses from those pharmaceutical companies.

So far, the Central American nation has reported 416,232 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 6,646 deaths, according to Health Ministry data. (Reporting by Elida Moreno in Panama City; Additional reporting by Adriana Barrera in Mexico City; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)

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