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  • COVID vaccines for children will need double approval

    Author: AAP

The health minister is confident the medicines regulator and expert immunisation panel will reach the same conclusions on COVID vaccines for younger children.

Coronavirus vaccines for children aged five to 12 will have to clear two approval hurdles when Pfizer lodges an application.

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The pharmaceutical giant is expected to apply for its vaccine to be used in younger children following a similar move in the United States.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration gives safety and efficacy approval, while the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation make recommendations about use.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia had secured enough doses to vaccinate five to 12-year-olds if approval was granted.


Clinical Nurse
Frontline Health Brisbane
Registered Nurse - Neurosurgery/ENT
St Vincent's Private Hospital

"Our approach has always been that we see this as a double green light," Mr Hunt told reporters on Tuesday.

But he refused to speculate about the potential of clashing TGA and ATAGI advice after similar agencies in the US split on booster shots for certain groups of adults.

"I'm very confident they have aligned their advice right throughout the pandemic and I would expect that would continue," the health minister said.

ATAGI is expected to release recommendations about booster shots for the wider population in coming weeks after backing third jabs for immunocompromised people.

Australia's vaccination rollout continues to motor ahead after a sluggish start, with more than two million doses administered in the past week.

Despite fears jab rates may taper off, the program is maintaining pace with almost 83 per cent of over-16s having received at least one dose.

About 1.3 million doses are needed to lift second-jab coverage from 63.4 to 70 per cent.

More than 53 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 have received a first jab just four weeks after the age cohort was added to the rollout.

"Australians are stepping forward in extraordinary numbers on a continuing basis," Mr Hunt said.

Labor's health spokesman Mark Butler said Australia had controlled the virus but failed to leverage success by being the slowest developed nation on vaccines.

"Best in show last year, worst in show this year," he told ABC radio.

"Which means that for the last three months, particularly the communities of New South Wales and Victoria have languished in lockdown."

There remains pockets of concern with Western Australia and Queensland trailing the nation, and the Northern Territory losing momentum.

Mr Hunt declined to blame the NT government, saying issues around vaccine hesitancy in remote communities were hampering progress.

"There is also a lot of damaging mythology which is being fought on the ground," he said.

"They are trying very hard but there are some communities where some pernicious anti-vax materials have been widely circulated."

He also gave full support to the TGA's legal action against former Liberal MP Craig Kelly who is under fire for spreading vaccine misinformation.

"I reject and condemn the comments from Mr Kelly."

Local cases in Victoria fell for a second consecutive day, with 1466 new coronavirus infections and eight deaths.

Another 360 people tested positive and five people died in NSW.

There were 28 new cases in Canberra, which will exit lockdown on Friday.


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