Vaccine rollout for children likely to begin in January

Source: 1News

Covid-19 vaccines will likely be available for children aged between five and 11 years old in New Zealand from late January, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Wednesday.

The paediatric vaccine, which Hipkins said equated to around a third of the adult dose, is still awaiting Medsafe approval, with the Government expecting to hear its recommendations by mid-to-late December.

Hipkins said vaccinating the young age group is important, despite them being less likely to be affected by the virus.

"Covid-19 can still have serious health consequences for them, particularly for those who are immuno-compromised or have significant respiratory conditions," he said.

"[The vaccine] has been thoroughly tested and trialled.

"We're expecting to roll out the vaccine before the end of January."

Hipkins said the Government would take a "whānau-based" approach to administering the vaccines, with health officials to continue working with iwi, DHBs, local providers and communities.

Officials would also work with the Ministry of Education, schools and early childhood centres to identify whether other locations could be used to administer the vaccines than those that currently exist.

The United States and European Union have recently approved the Covid-19 vaccine for use on 5-11 year olds.

After evaluating a study of the vaccine in more than 2000 children, the European Medical Agency estimated that the vaccine was about 90 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in young children and said the most common side effects were pain at the injection site, headaches, muscle pain and chills.

The agency said the two-dose regimen should be given to children three weeks apart.