NZ kids able to get Pfizer vaccine from Jan 17

Source: 1News

Cabinet has confirmed the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 year-olds will begin on January 17, before the school term starts.

The announcement was made by Covid-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins along with a host of other measures to minimise the risk of the highly infectious Omicron variant spreading into the New Zealand community.

It comes as Medsafe approved the paediatric dose for children last week.

Hipkins said reaching into remote or hesitant communities would be done “rapidly” and providing vital information to parents and caregivers was “an absolute priority up front”.

He said while vaccination of children will “always be a choice made by parents” he said he couldn’t speak “strongly enough in the interests of our collective safety for children as the last unvaccinated group in New Zealand” of the importance of vaccinating them.

“I want to underline that it is safe and it is necessary.”

Hipkins did stress that the vaccine was not mandatory for children.

Earlier in December, the Ministry of Education confirmed children can't be turned away from school over their vaccination status.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's (DPMC) Covid-19 Group told 1News that "school students are not required to be vaccinated in order to access their education," and that the Government is not currently considering any changes to this setting.

The paediatric vaccine equates to around a third of the adult dose and has already been rolled out in some countries.

The United States and European Union have recently approved the Covid-19 vaccine for use in 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.

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.