From Monday 9 August, children aged between 12 to 15 years old with either specific medical conditions, who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or live in a remote community will be able to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
This follows a review of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12-15 by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), which has recommended its use for children at a higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
The Australian Government has accepted ATAGI’s updated recommendations, which include the following groups of children aged 12 to 15 be prioritised for the Pfizer vaccine:
- children with specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, including severe asthma, diabetes, obesity, cardiac and circulatory congenital anomalies, neuro developmental disorders, epilepsy, immuno-compromised and trisomy 21
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
- all children aged 12–15 years in remote communities, as part of broader community outreach vaccination programs that provide vaccines for all ages (≥12 years).
This means that around 220,000 children aged between 12 to 15 years old will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Minister Hunt, said the Government expected further recommendations regarding the use Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the remainder of children aged 12 to 15 in the coming months.
“I would encourage all parents who have a child with a medical condition or are immuno-compromised to bring them forward for vaccination. We want to ensure all Australians are protected from COVID-19, including the most vulnerable in our community,” Minister Hunt said.
“To date, we’ve administered more than 12.3 million vaccines across Australia and I want to thank everyone who has come forward so far to receive their first and second doses, you’re doing an incredible job.”
ATAGI has reviewed available data on the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children aged 12 to 15, the risk of COVID-19 in this age group, and evidence of wider benefits and risks of vaccinating children.
This review follows the decision of the Therapeutics Goods Administration, who have extended its provisional registration of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from people aged 16 years and over to include children aged 12 to 15.
The National Cabinet has agreed in-principle to an updated four-step National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response (National Plan) taking into account the Doherty Institute COVID-19 modelling and the Commonwealth Department of Treasury economic analysis. This national plan is based on vaccination rates for people 16 years and above in line with the expert medical advice of the Doherty Institute.
Parents should check the COVID-19 eligibility checker from 9 August to book in their child’s vaccination. Children in remote indigenous communities will be able to receive the vaccine prior to the 9 of August in areas where in reach vaccination is occurring this week.
The Australian Government has secured more than 280 million COVID-19 vaccines, including 125 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.