Final decision nears on child COVID jabs

(Shawn Rocco/Duke Health via AP)

A decision on whether young children in Australia could receive the COVID vaccine could be imminent, after US regulators approved the Pfizer shot for five to 11-year-olds.

The USA Centre for Disease Control backed the Pfizer vaccine for the age group, which could allow for vaccines to be distributed to as many as 28 million children as soon as this week.

Australia is yet to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds, but health authorities previously indicated they would watch the decision from American authorities closely.

Pfizer had supplied initial data to Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration in late October surrounding vaccines for young children.

At the time the data was supplied, the head of the administration Professor John Skerritt said the final approval was close.

“It will take a few weeks, but I would hope that we would get there by the end of November,” Prof Skerritt said at the time.

While Pfizer has been approved in the US for vaccines in children, other manufacturers such as Moderna are conducting their own trials for the age group.

Since states affected by COVID started to reopen, there has been growing concern about the large number of infections among children, particularly in schools, due to them being ineligible to be vaccinated.

Health authorities have urged for as many adults as possible to be vaccinated around children to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Several schools have been forced to briefly shut their gates in multiple jurisdictions after COVID outbreaks among students.

Among them was a school in Canberra’s south, which was closed on Wednesday after a cluster of 17 cases was linked to the campus.

It comes as Australia’s vaccine rate continues to climb, with more than 147,000 vaccine doses administered in the past reporting period.

There’s now 78.5 per cent of the national population aged over 16 who have been fully vaccinated while 88.7 per cent have received their first dose.

The ACT continues to lead the country with a 93.7 per cent double-dose rate while the NT is at the back of the pack at 64.3 per cent fully vaccinated.

Case numbers in Victoria are continuing to decline, with the state registering its second day in a row of daily cases below 1000.

There were 941 cases and eight deaths reported on Wednesday, while there were 190 cases and four deaths in NSW.

In the ACT, 15 cases were reported in the latest update, the highest daily number of infections in almost two weeks.


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