The Health Minister has encouraged Pfizer to apply to have its vaccine approved for kids aged under 12 in Australia at the same time as it applies for approval in the United States.
Pfizer announced its COVID-19 vaccine worked for children aged five to 11 when they were given a third of the amount given to people over 12.
The company said it found after second dose, children aged five to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibodies at levels equally as strong as teenagers and young adults.
It studied the lower dose in 2,268 children at kindergarten and primary school.
It is planning on getting US authorisation for the younger age group soon, prompting Health Minister Greg Hunt’s letter.
“I am heartened by your advice that trials of the Pfizer vaccine are showing promise in children under the age of 12,” he wrote to to Pfizer’s Australia and New Zealand.
“I note the announcement that Pfizer International is now intending to apply for regulatory approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 12.
“I encourage and invite Pfizer to submit a parallel application to the TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] for Australian regulatory approval at the earliest possible time.”
Mr Hunt went on to say if the TGA did approve the vaccine for the younger age group, the government was “well placed” to then expand the rollout to include the extra cohort.
Chief Midwifery and Nursing Officer Alison McMillan said Australia welcomed Pfizer’s announcement.
“It’s important to understand Australia is ready and prepared for childhood vaccination when we’re ready and, of course, for any boosters that might be required of us into the future,” she said.
It comes as Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the government needed to outline its plan to vaccinate children under 12 years of age, in light of Pfizer’s latest evidence.
“The government needs to plan better better for the future, we need a plan for boosters, we need a plan to open up safely, we need a plan for paediatric vaccines when its available and when its approved,” he said.
Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler echoed Mr Albanese, calling on the government to begin prepare to vaccinate under 12s now.
“Australian parents deserve to know what’s going to happen to their children, who we know have become something of a frontline in this disastrous third wave, driven by delta variant, the highly infectious delta variant,” he said.
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