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Under-12s will not be vaccinated against COVID-19 until 2022


Anastasia Tsirtsakis


8/11/2021 4:21:44 PM

The TGA is waiting for more data before it decides whether to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5–11.

A bandage being placed on a little girl’s arm.
Data from a clinical trial on Pfizer’s vaccine reportedly shows 90.7% efficacy against COVID-19 among young children.

As Australia moves to open its borders, it had been anticipated that vaccination for COVID-19 could be expanded to 5–11-year-olds ahead of Christmas.
 
However, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has now indicated that will be unlikely, given Pfizer has only submitted the first part of its data for the young cohort to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with more expected to come.
 
‘The critical thing is a full and thorough assessment,’ he told Sunrise.
 
‘Our kids are far less likely to either get or, in particular, to have serious complications.
 
‘But we want to make that vaccine available, and we’ll be able to do that as soon as the medical regulators approve it – if they approve it.’
 
Early last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention became the first health regulator to recommend emergency use of Pfizer among children aged 5–11, after being advised by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) independent advisory committee.
 
Pfizer’s clinical trial data reportedly shows 90.7% efficacy against COVID-19 among young children, but it has only submitted a partial application to the TGA, with the remaining data expected to be supplied over the next two weeks.
 
Despite the CDC’s decision, Associate Professor Margie Danchin of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) last week told newsGP Australian regulatory approval was unlikely to be given until at least early next year.
 
If approved, 5–11-year-olds will be administered two 10 microgram doses three weeks apart, with each dose a third of what is currently being given to those aged 12 and over. As a result of the lower dosing schedule, Pfizer says it anticipates the rare risk of developing myocarditis may be reduced.
 
On Friday, the Doherty Institute delivered its final modelling to National Cabinet, proposing that children be permitted to continue attending school – even if one of their classmates tests positive to COVID-19 – by using daily rapid antigen tests.
 
Compared to quarantining at home, the modelling demonstrated that daily testing resulted on average in just one more infection in primary schools and six fewer in high schools.
 
The recommendation is part of a larger conversation about living with COVID-19.
 
On Saturday, Australia reached its target of having 80% of those aged 16 and over fully vaccinated, which was described by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a ‘magnificent milestone’.
 
‘That’s four out of five – how good is that?’ he said. ‘This has been a true Australian national effort.’
 
Meanwhile, Australia’s booster program officially commenced on Monday, with a third shot of Pfizer now available to those aged 18 and over who had their second dose at least six months ago.
 
At the time of publication, 177,000 people had already received a booster shot.
 
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