Kids in Australia are set to get the jab, with the country’s drug regulator* green-lighting* Covid-19 vaccinations for children as young as 12.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved Pfizer’s application for a licence for its vaccine to be given to children aged 12 to 16.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said “protecting children would be an important and welcome additional step in the national vaccination program”.
“Significantly, we planned for this outcome and acquired* the vaccines in the event of eligibility*,” he said.
The nation’s expert immunisation panel, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), must now consider how children over 12 will be included in the rollout.
The government is confident ATAGI will fast-track approval for children with underlying* health conditions within days, while approval for all children aged between 12 and 16 is likely to take at least a month.
Mr Hunt said the vaccines could be given to children through schools as well as at Covid-19 vaccination centres and GP clinics.
Pressure to protect high school-aged children from coronavirus has been growing amid a spate* of cases at schools.
The TGA granted provisional* approval for the Pfizer vaccine in January but until now it has only been approved for people over the age of 16.
Regulators around the world have been split on whether the Pfizer vaccine should be given to children under the age of 16.
The US has been vaccinating children as young as 12 for several months, with President Joe Biden announcing on July 21 that he was confident America would begin jabbing younger children as early as September.
In contrast, the UK’s equivalent to ATAGI, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, has not approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in the general population between the age of 12 and 16.
Instead, it has approved it for the same youngsters aged 12 to 15 that ATAGI is expected to move quickly on – those with severe neurodisabilities*, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression* and multiple or severe learning disabilities.
So far Pfizer is the only company with a vaccine approved for use in Australia to have applied for a licence to jab children as young as 12.
But in the US, Moderna and Pfizer are both undertaking trials of their Covid-19 vaccines for children under 12, with results expected this year.
- regulator: the person or thing that controls something
- green-lighting: approving
- acquired: bought or got
- eligibility: the position of being allowed to do or receive something after meeting the requirements or conditions
- underlying: something that exists but might not be visible or obvious
- spate: a large number of events, often bad events, happening close together
- provisional: temporary or for the time being
- neurodisabilities: a group of conditions relating to the brain and/or nervous system, including cerebral palsy and autism
- immunosuppression: when the body’s immune system and its ability to fight infections and diseases is reduced
- What is the name of the vaccine approved for use in children?
- What ages as this vaccine been approved for?
- What group of children would this vaccine be made available to first?
- What is the name of Australia’s Health Minister?
- What does TGA stand for?
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1. Safety Measures
Vaccination is one part of our defence against Covid-19. You are probably aware of many other measures that people are advised to take, to stop the spread of the virus. Draw a picture of a public place such as a school or supermarket, showing people demonstrating some of those behaviours that can help to keep themselves and the community safe. Label each of the safety measures you have included.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science; Health and Physical Education
Find out more about the experience of having a Covid-19 vaccine by conducting the following interview with somebody you know who has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
What is your name and how old are you?
When were you vaccinated and where did you go for your shot?
What made you decide to get the vaccine?
Tell me about your experience before, during and after your vaccine…
What would you say to people who are thinking of being vaccinated against Covid-19?
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Personal and Social Capability
Consider Both Sides
Many people will be excited about the opportunity for children to get the Covid vaccine. But how do you feel?
Consider both sides of the argument. Why would some people want it and others not? What do the kids think?
Fold your page in half and make a list. On one side list all the positives of getting the vaccines and on the other side write down your concerns.
Which side has more points?