Australia Children as young as 12 could be vaccinated in Australia

09:51  19 july  2021
09:51  19 july  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Children aged 12 to 15 could be vaccinated in Australia late this year or early next year in a bid to battle the Delta strain of Covid-19.

Australia's drug regulator, the TGA, is currently assessing an application from Pfizer to have its jab approved in the country for that age group.

The vaccine has already been approved for children over 12 in countries such as the US, Canada, Germany, Japan, France and Italy.

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Trials for children under 12 are ongoing to determine safety and dosage, with results due in a few months and a decision in the US expected in early 2022.

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said vaccinating teenagers was crucial to securing freedom.

Previously she said the state wants 80 per cent of adults jabbed - meaning 10million doses would have been administered - before removing restrictions, but now she wants children included in the threshold.

'Vaccination in relation to the Delta strain won't necessarily just mean adults, which is where the 10 million jabs came from,' she told reporters on Monday.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant explained why the Delta strain has changed the equation.

'We are seeing more infections from children spreading, which is not the characteristic we had observed with previous strains,' she said.

'It means we need to rethink our role of vaccinating children. It is pleasing to see in some countries overseas that we have vaccines that are licensed for use in children, and I know the regulator, the TGA, is continually considering the vaccine.'

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Asked when children could be vaccinated in Australia, Dr Chant said: 'When we have more vaccine supplies and we have done the hard work of vaccinating the adult population.'

Every Australian adult is expected to be offered a vaccine before the end of the year, meaning children could be offered jabs late this year or early next year.

Meanwhile, one million Pfizer doses have touched down in Australia as the nation's sluggish vaccine rollout ramps up.

A shipment of 800,000 doses landed in Sydney on Sunday night with another 200,000 split between Perth and Melbourne.

The federal government has secured earlier supply of its 40million Pfizer vaccines, bringing in 1million a week from now until at least the end of August.

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Aussies over 40 are eligible for a Pfizer jab, with under 40s expected to get the call up in late September or early October.

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'September, early October is likely but if we can bring that forward, we will,' Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday.

Some 18,000 Australians under 40 have taken the AstraZeneca vaccine which is available for over 18s but only recommended for over 60s due to a low risk of serious blood clots in younger people.

Only 13.59 per cent of Aussie adults have had two doses of a Covid vaccine, compared with 48.6 per cent of Canadians, 48.4 per cent of Americans and 68.3 per cent of Britons.

Covid-19 taskforce boss Lieutenant General John Frewen said more GPs will be given the Pfizer doses to speed up the rollout.

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'By the end of the month we'll have 1,300 GPs that can administer Pfizer,' he said.

On July 8, the government announced a deal with Pfizer to bring in at least a million vaccines a week from July 19, meaning more than 4.5million jabs will arrive in August.

Previously only three million doses were expected in August and 4.5million were due in September.

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It comes as 12million Australians are stuck in lockdown due to recent outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne.

Victoria recorded another 13 community-acquired cases of coronavirus on Monday, with all of them linked to existing outbreaks.

The number of coronavirus exposure sites across the state has ballooned to more than 270.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is widely expected to extend the state's five-day lockdown, which is due to end at midnight on Tuesday.

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NSW recorded 98 new cases on Monday as Sydney enters another week of lockdown.

Construction work across Sydney has been shut down for a fortnight, leaving hundreds of thousands of people out of work.

Business and union groups have warned the restrictions will cost the economy more than $700 million a week, in addition to earlier forecasts.

But authorities argue the construction shutdown is needed to help stop the spread of coronavirus, given the high number of cases recorded among people infectious while in the community.

NSW reported 105 cases on Sunday and the death of a woman in her 90s, the fourth fatality in the latest outbreak.

At this stage, Sydney's lockdown is due to end on July 30.

With AAP

Why has Australia's vaccine rollout been so slow?

Australia's rollout started in late February, more than two months after the UK and the US, because there was no need to rush through emergency approval of vaccines.

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The first setback came in March when the EU banned the export of vaccines made on the continent, meaning that 3.1million out of 3.8million doses of AstraZeneca did not arrive in Australia on time.

As a result, Prime Minister Scott Morrison missed his target to vaccinate four million Aussies by the end of March by 85 per cent.

Then in April the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advised that Australia's main vaccine and the only one it can make onshore, the AstraZeneca jab, should not be given to patients under 50 due to a very rare but serious blood-clot side effect.

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The move threw the rollout into chaos as the government scrambled to secure more doses of Pfizer, its only other approved vaccine, and pushed back its aim to give everyone a first dose by October to December.

Pfizer agreed to sell Australia 20 million more doses, doubling the existing total, but said they would not all arrive until the end of the year.

Mr Morrison admitted that the change had huge implications for the vaccination program, saying: 'Now, that was a big shock to the roll-out and they are events outside of the government's control.'

The change also prompted an increase in hesitancy as an Essential survey found 16 per cent of Aussies said they would not get vaccinated, up from 12 per cent in March, and the portion willing to get vaccinated as soon as possible slumped from 47 per cent to 42 per cent.

Then in June, the experts changed the advice again, recommending that only people over 60 get the AstraZeneca jab after 12 more cases of blood clots were recorded in a week, seven in their 50s.

Officials made their decision based on a risk-benefit analysis which took into account that Australia had very low levels of Covid-19 due to its tough international border closure.

Dr Jamal Rifi, who owns Belmore Medical Centre in western Sydney, told the ABC: 'People talk about hesitancy or reluctance, it's well beyond that. It's a refusal of patients to have the AstraZeneca.'

On July 8, the government announced a deal with Pfizer to bring forward its deliveries to secure at least a million vaccines a week from July 19.

Read more

Doctor urges Australians to get the Covid vaccine .
An Australian doctor has urged younger Australians to consider the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, saying the risk from an adverse reaction to peanuts is higher. Dr Kean-Seng Lim from Mt Druitt in Sydney's west said NSW is in a situation where for those in hotspot areas, getting a vaccine as a priority may be better than waiting for Pfizer vaccine. Australia's peak authority on vaccines ATAGI recommends Pfizer for people aged under 60 because of a very rare blood-clot side-effect linked to AstraZeneca - but anyone over 18 can access this option if the provide 'informed consent'.

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