Kiwi kids won't be able to get Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, but expert says it's the right call

Source: 1News

Kiwi kids won't be allowed the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 jab, but one vaccine expert says it's the right move.

The Government gave its formal approval for the vaccination to be used in New Zealand yesterday, but with additional guidelines on who will be able to receive it.

On the list of those who have not been approved to get the jab are those under the age of 16.

But Vaccine Alliance director professor Graham Le Gros this morning told Breakfast it is the right move as trials are still under way on how the Pfizer vaccination affects children.

"This is actually standard practice. You don't roll out a vaccine in the general population, in age groups or types of people that you haven't first tested with all the precautionary things in place first," he said.

"There are trials currently underway by Pfizer, for example, in the 12- to 16-year-olds to see if children of this age actually do respond, because remember there's two things — does the vaccine actually alarm them or excite their immune systems the wrong way, or does it actually not work as well? Both reasons you don't want to give the vaccine, so we just need to check those things out first of all."

However, Le Gros said there is no pressure to rush and vaccinate children.

"If children were getting really sick and dying, etcetera, etcetera, there'd be a lot of pressure to actually have the kids vaccinated first. But because, actually, we're seeing the people that suffer, the people that die, the people that don't do well who are in the older age group that's been trialled out first in that population, the sub population, and now we're moving to the kids.

"Also, the evidence is that the kids don't spread the virus as much — well that's the what's come in so far — so it hasn't been quite such an issue, hot button issue.

"Obviously, for the future we need to have everyone vaccinated but we just do it step by step."

As well as children, people on immune stimulants for cancer therapy also won't be able to get vaccinated as it's not known how their treatment will interact with the vaccine.

But people who are pregnant or lactating have been approved to get the Pfizer jab.

New Zealand is also on lists for other Covid-19 vaccines, which Le Gros said is the right move since it is still not known how long immunity lasts and the pandemic rages on.

"It's [the pandemic] not going to be over this year or next year, I'm really sorry to say that," he said, adding we have to be in it for "the long haul".

However, Le Gros said there has been progress in fighting back against the pandemic due to vaccine efforts around the world.

"In Israel we see virus infection rates going right down as they've managed to vaccinate enough of the population to really start affecting transmission and I think there's evidence for that for the UK as well," he said.

"So vaccines look really good and are going to be the way that we can get rid of this virus, so lets just keep on going on, keep working carefully."