Moderna’s COVID vaccine has been approved for use in babies above the age of six months. This means that every age group in Australia is now accounted for in terms of vaccine coverage — a huge milestone in public health and scientific achievement.
The announcement was made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia’s medicines regulator, which has “provisionally” declared the vaccine safe for use in the six month-to-five age range. This is the first COVID vaccine to be medically approved in Australia for use in this demographic.
Moreover, the Federal Health Minister, Mark Butler, has said that around 70,000 young children will be able to get vaxxed from September 5 onwards. These jabs will be specifically for kids that might get super sick if they caught COVID.
Butler stated, “The Albanese Government has accepted the medical advice and made COVID-19 vaccination available to our most vulnerable young children who have significant health conditions.” He also noted, “These vaccines will be shortly distributed to vaccination sites.”
In its statement, the TGA said that it expects “that vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalisation and death”.
The dosage for young children is a quarter of what is administered to adults and half of what is given to the six-to-11-year-old group.
In making their decision, the TGA reports examining data from studies of this vaccine, which has recently been approved for use in this age group by the US Food and Drug Administration, conducted by researchers in the US and Canada.
The ‘KidCOVE’ clinical trial tracked the experiences of 6,000 children aged six months to six years and found that “the immune response to the vaccine in children was similar to that seen in young adults (18 to 25 years) with a favourable safety profile”.
Adverse side effects are also thought to be similar, according to the TGA, falling in the ‘mild-moderate’ category. These include irritability, crying, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, muscle pain, and other body soreness. The effects are temporary and appear more severe after the second dose.
While COVID in children is often mild, the use of the vaccine will be helpful in stopping the spread of the disease amongst children who can then easily go on to infect others.
The Royal Australian College of GPs Welcomes This Move
The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) gave this announcement a metaphorical stamp of approval.
“With tens of thousands of new COVID-19 cases emerging every day in communities across Australia, including in children aged 6 months to five years, it could not come at a better time,” said the origination’s president, Dr. Karen Price. “Once again, I remind everyone that all the COVID-19 vaccines are extremely safe and effective and will significantly reduce the incidence of people suffering severe effects from the virus, including hospitalisation or worse.
However, Price also believes that more needs to be done to help out the folks administering these vaccines. “This latest announcement is yet another reminder that practices need more support from government,” she asserted. “We are already flat out delivering COVID-19 vaccines and influenza vaccines as well as delivering care to people who have delayed consultations and screenings during the pandemic. It is important to keep in mind too that delivering vaccines to children, particularly young children, is more time intensive and complicated compared to adults.”