Kids under 12 could get Pfizer COVID vaccine before the end of the year depending on TGA application

Australian kids aged between five and 11 could get a COVID vaccine jab this year, depending on when and if Pfizer makes an application to the nation’s medical regulator.

Health Minister Greg Hunt 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, and it is planning on applying for US authorisation soon.

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan said if they moved quickly, it could mean it was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) here soon as well.

“The process has worked very well and very efficiently and so based on when the application is received the data is submitted and [the TGA] can make that assessment, it is possible that we will see this this year,” she said.

“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.”

Pfizer 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.

In response to the news, Mr Hunt’s reached out to Pfizer to invite them to apply to the TGA at the same time as it applied for US approval.

“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.

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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