Accessibility 'important' for rollout of Pfizer for under-12s

Source: 1News

The Director-General of Health has stressed a need for accessibility to the childrens' version of the Pfizer vaccine before doses can be rolled out for youth after passing its first hurdle in the US.

The company’s CEO says it’ll submit an application for approval in Europe.

Advisors to the Food and Drug Administration, similar to New Zealand's drug regulatory body Medsafe, voted unanimously on Wednesday in support of a Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11-years-old.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield noted that FDA approval was a positive step in having the drug approved here, but noted it was still a while off being approved for Kiwi youth. 

He added that with approval of a separate vaccine for children comes a need to arrange sustainable supply chains with Pfizer.

"Pfizer is making an application for a paediatric version of their vaccine so one of the important conversations we are having with Pfizer is around the accessibility to that paediatric version of the vaccine," said Bloomfield. 

"It's an important part of the consideration of both the approval process and then the timing of when we can roll out the vaccine." 

He said health officials have been keeping a close eye on how the US plans on rolling out a paediatric version.

However, questions remain over whether Pfizer's paediatric version is simply a reduced dose of the adult version, or a new formula.

Bloomfield said health authorities in New Zealand were currently "clarifying" that detail with Pfizer.

The country's regulatory body is expecting more information from Pfizer about the paediatric version within the first two weeks of November to be reviewed alongside other data.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins reassured that Medsafe is prepared to fast-track its decision on vaccine.

"I know the FDA approval was the first hurdle of our own approval processes here in New Zealand and Medsafe are ready to move quickly on an application. 

"They'll do it throughly as they always do."  

In order for New Zealand to be able to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine for children under 12, it first needs to be approved by Medsafe before being signed off by Cabinet.