ATAGI approves Pfizer jabs for young children from January 10

Children as young as five will be able to get a COVID-19 jab from January.

Children as young as five will be able to get a COVID-19 jab from January. Photo: AAP

Children as young as five will be able to get a COVID-19 jab from January following final approval from Australia’s immunisation advisory body.

The federal government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s recommendation to expand the jab program to children aged between five and 11.

“This will bring great relief to so many mums and dads, who now have a choice on what’s best for their kids,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

“They can have peace of mind knowing this has the tick from the best medical regulators in the world.”

The vaccines to be made available to about 2.27 million children contain one-third of the standard Pfizer dose.

Bookings will open in late December and jabs will be rolled out from January 10 following child-specific training for healthcare workers and batch testing by the medicines regulator.

Health Minister Greg Hunt encouraged all parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Vaccinating children can also help reduce community transmission and help prevent children passing the virus on to younger siblings, grandparents and the wider community,” he said.

GPs, pharmacies, state-run clinics and Aboriginal health services will deliver doses, with individual jurisdictions responsible for any school-based vaccine programs.

Advice about giving children aged between six and 11 the Moderna jab is expected over coming weeks.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration earlier signed off on Pfizer for under-12s, but final approval was needed from ATAGI.

Slightly more than 88 per cent of Australians aged 16 and older are double dosed.

Queensland and the Northern Territory have become the latest jurisdictions to surpass an 80 per cent full vaccination rate.

Western Australia is sitting at 79 per cent coverage.

Omicron is predicted to become the dominant variant as the number of confirmed cases of the strain in NSW rises to 42.

The state recorded a total of 420 new infections on Thursday and one more death.

Two additional potential Omicron cases are being investigated in Victoria, which reported 1232 overall cases and nine deaths.

There were four new infections in the ACT and three in the Northern Territory.

ATAGI advised against bringing forward booster shots for adults on the grounds it was unlikely to provide greater protection against Omicron.

But Mr Morrison said the government was ready should that advice change.

More than 600,000 people have received a booster shot recommended for six months after a second dose.

“Australia is one of the first countries to introduce a whole-of-population booster program, and we did that before Omicron,” the Prime Minister earlier told reporters at Geelong.

“The events only show the wisdom of that decision. We have ample booster shots.”

A study shows the Pfizer vaccine booster provides an effective defence against Omicron. But two-doses are less effective.

ATAGI is considering Moderna as a booster option for adults after it was ticked off by the TGA.


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