ATAGI approves vax for children against Covid-19

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has approved extending the vaccination program to children aged 5 to 11 years from 10 January 2022. It follows the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) provisional approval of the Pfizer vaccine for this age group early this month.

ATAGI’s considerations before recommending the Pfizer vaccine be extended to this age group built on the work of the TGA and included a careful review of the “real world” experience in other countries where vaccinations had already been administered to this cohort.

Clinical trials have demonstrated the vaccine to be more than 90% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed symptomatic Covid-19 from seven days after a person has had their second dose. The vaccine was demonstrated to be well tolerated, with most adverse effects being mild and transient.

The experts on ATAGI considered the low numbers of children – approximately one in 3,000 – who get Covid-19 and go on to develop an immunological condition called paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS, also known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C). Children who develop this condition can become very sick for months.

ATAGI also took into account the benefits that vaccinating this age group would have for the broader community through reduced transmission levels and greater protection for older and more vulnerable Australians.

The Government is working with state and territory governments, and health professionals, to prepare for the rollout to be extended to children aged 5 to 11 years from 10 January 2022.

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