General News

Under 12s to access protection against the worst of COVID

  • Pfizer vaccine became available from Monday 10 January to children aged 5 to 11 years.
  • Parents and guardians are encouraged to book through the Vaccine Clinic Finder.
  • Vaccination protects our younger community members from the worst of COVID.

Children aged 5 to 11 in the North Coast region are now eligible to receive a new, lower-dose formulation of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

With the dramatic increase in transmission rates due to the now-dominant Omicron strain, Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer Julie Sturgess is strongly encouraging parents and guardians to make a booking for children in their care in the coming weeks.

‘We know that vaccination reduces the risk of transmission as well as serious illness and hospitalisation from COVID-19,’ said Ms Sturgess.

‘The North Coast community vaccination rate for those aged 16 and up now stands at 93.6%, and our 12 to 15 year-olds have been eligible to book their COVID vaccination since September 2021. 

‘With the strong uptake in our region, we expect that parents and carers are well acquainted with the benefits of vaccination and are ready to extend the same level of protection to our younger community members,’ Ms Sturgess said.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended vaccination for children aged 5 to 11 years in December 2021, following earlier approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.  

Approval was based on a careful evaluation of available data to support its safety and efficacy among this age group. 

The under-12s Pfizer vaccine is 10µg (0.2mL) or only a third of the recommended 30µg dose administered to people aged 12 and over. 

The smaller dose will have an orange-capped vial to differentiate it from the 12 years and older vaccine. 

Children under 12 will still receive two doses, though these will be eight weeks apart, unlike the three-week interval for older cohorts.  

Health advice is that a longer interval between doses appears to generate a stronger immune response. 

‘We’re encouraging any parent or guardian to use the Vaccine Clinic Finder to book an appointment over the coming weeks, while their school-aged children are still on holidays,’ Ms Sturgess said.

‘If you are unable to find a suitable appointment, please check back regularly as more appointments will become available as supply to the region increases.

‘Healthy North Coast is also open to working with other appropriate venues and locations, which may include schools, to expedite the rollout.’

Any parent of guardian who has concerns about the suitability of the vaccination for a child in their care should speak with their GP.