Second application pending for under-fives COVID vaccine

Jolyon Attwooll

30/06/2022 4:18:45 PM

Pfizer has been told it can apply for its Comirnaty vaccine to be used to immunise children under five in Australia.

Child, COVID-19 vaccination
A three-year-old after receiving a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination in Seattle. (Image: AAP Photos)

There may soon be two COVID-19 vaccines available for young children in Australia.
Earlier this month, Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler stated that a decision on the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six months to five years will likely be made ‘in the coming weeks’.
Now the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has confirmed it has granted Pfizer permission to make an application to extend the use of its own vaccine to a similar age group.
While the TGA has previously confirmed receipt of Moderna’s application, it stated that approving the process for Pfizer did not mean the company had already applied for the eligibility extension.
‘It does not mean an application for use in this age group has been made and it does not mean any subsequent application would be approved,’ an announcement from the TGA states.
If both or either of the vaccines are approved by the TGA and then recommended for use by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), it would mean almost the entire population of Australia would be eligible for vaccination.
This month, US authorities approved both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines for use in the youngest cohort of the population and vaccinations have already begun.
The Pfizer vaccine for the youngest age group is administered in three doses.
If approved, Professor Robert Booy said the Pfizer vaccine will be most relevant for more vulnerable children, with some likely to find the multiple vaccinations an obstacle.
‘This provides protection but is not very convenient for parents,’ he said.
‘The issue of COVID in young children is especially focused on that small minority who has a major medical problem, including immunosuppression.
‘Should the new Pfizer vaccine be recommended in Australia it would best be focused on children at high risk of severe COVID.’
He said other vaccines are likely to be available soon that would only require two injections and stressed the importance of influenza vaccination for the age group, saying that flu ‘may well be more severe in young children than COVID’.
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