Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program will be extended to all children aged 5 to 11 years from 10 January 2022, after the Australian Government accepted recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
Vaccination experts on ATAGI have recommended the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine be made available to all children aged 5 to 11 years to help prevent serious illness from COVID-19. The vaccine for this age group is one-third of the dosage given to people aged 12 years and over.
This is the second of four critical steps to be completed before January 10, with next steps including childhood specific vaccination training for healthcare providers and batch testing of doses by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The Prime Minister said keeping our kids healthy and safe is important to every family.
“This will be welcome news for millions of families across the country who want the opportunity for their children to be vaccinated,” the Prime Minister said.
“In one month from today, around 2.27 million Aussie kids aged five to 11 years will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“This will bring great relief to so many mums and dads, who now have a choice on what’s best for their kids. They can have peace of mind knowing this has the tick from the best medical regulators in the world.
“Australia is a proud vaccination nation, especially when it comes to protecting our kids, with more than 95 per cent of all five-year-olds currently fully vaccinated against other diseases.
“Vaccinating our kids is the next step in our National Plan, which has continually provided us with a safe, step by step pathway to keeping Australians safe throughout the pandemic.
“Australia has a strong record of dealing with COVID, we have one of the lowest fatality rates, highest vaccination rates and strongest economies in the world.”
ATAGI, after reviewing clinical data from Canada, recommended an eight-week interval between the two doses, which can be shortened to three weeks in special circumstances such as outbreak settings.
Clinical trials have shown the vaccine to be more than 90 per cent effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed symptomatic COVID-19 from seven days after a person has had their second dose. The vaccine was demonstrated to be well tolerated, with most adverse effects being mild and transient.
Whilst most children who get COVID will have mild or no symptoms, some children will experience severe disease and can be sick for months from COVID related complications.
This year, the effects of lockdowns on the mental health of children have been all too prominent – with children missing school, activities and the benefits of friendships and wider networks.
The TGA and ATAGI are also assessing the Moderna vaccine for children 6-11 years of age with advice expected over the coming weeks.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt today welcomed ATAGI’s recommendations, which will help provide greater reassurance to parents, carers and guardians.
“Australians can be reassured that by vaccinating their children against COVID-19 they have done everything possible to keep their child safe from this virus,” Minister Hunt said.
“Vaccinating children can also help reduce community transmission and help prevent children passing the virus on to younger siblings, grandparents and the wider community.
“We encourage all parents to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.”
So far approximately five million children aged 5-11 years of age have received at least one dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the United States and approximately 1.4 million have received two doses.
Parents, carers and guardians will be able to book appointments from late December, with vaccinations starting on 10 January 2022.
Vaccines for kids will be made available through General Practices, Aboriginal Health Services, community pharmacies and state and territory clinics. Individual clinics will determine if they will provide vaccines for children 5-11 and states and territories will be responsible for any school based programs and will provide further information as necessary.
Healthcare providers will be able to order vaccines over the coming weeks. Check the Vaccine Clinic Finder for the latest information.