Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for children aged 12 years and over by Australia’s medicinal regulatory body.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration have “provisionally approved” the use of Pfizer following “careful evaluation of the available data” according to a statement.
The news will come as a welcome relief to Australia’s state and government leaders as the current inability to vaccinate young people while keeping to the health protocols could prevent us from reaching herd immunity and thus ridding ourselves of COVID-19.
Previously, the vaccine was only approved for those aged 16 and above. The TGA have said that, having followed the research on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine abroad, including clinical studies in people aged 12-15, they can confidently support the use of the Pfizer vaccine in young people.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has said that the decision is “another step forward” for Australia’s vaccine roll out.
“The TGA’s approval is a very important step in the process,” he said.
Although the vaccine has been approved for this younger age group, they won’t be instantly included in the roll out.
The decision on how to prioritise those in the 12-15 age bracket will be made by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) who will decide on what to do next over the following week.
It’s likely that those with underlying health conditions, or living with family who are at serious risk of complications from COVID-19, will be granted priority access to the vaccine.
Hunt has said that the ATAGI decision is already well underway and that the organisation has “been meeting with global experts over recent days to inform their deliberations and expert advice”.
He has also said that the National COVID-19 Vaccines Taskforce has been “undertaking detailed planning to support the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine for children.”
This means we could be seeing Pfizer shots available for those priority groups of young people aged 12-15 as soon as the next few weeks.
Speaking to Channel 7, Hunt said that once priority young people are added to the rollout scheme, all children would then be added and would have to wait until a vaccine is available like the rest of the adult population.
An increased supply of Pfizer vaccines are expected to hit our shores from September when the vaccine rollout is expected to be expanded.