16 December, 2021
The Government’s medicine regulator has given provisional approval for the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.
Medsafe’s Medicines Assessment Advisory Committee met this week to discuss Pfizer’s application for the paediatric vaccine, a third of the dose given to adults, and had been looking at overseas vaccine data.
Cabinet will next consider the vaccine for approval. The vaccine could be rolled out before the end of January.
It will involve two doses at least 21 days apart, and is an adapted version of the vaccine used for people aged 12 and older.
Ministry of Health national immunisation programme director, Astrid Koornneef, said that work is well underway to prepare for the potential rollout of the paediatric Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
“Medsafe approval is the first step in the process, and the Covid-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group is now providing advice to the Ministry of Health to inform Cabinet’s decision whether to use the vaccine in New Zealand,” she said.
The Ministry wants to roll out the vaccine at the earliest opportunity and no later than the end of January, she said.
“Medsafe will only approve a vaccine or medicine for use in New Zealand once it is satisfied that it has met high standards for quality, safety and efficacy.”
Vaccine staff would need training to use the vaccine and the roll-out will involve “whānau-based approaches”, she added.
The US and European Union is among those who have started inoculating children in the age group.
Cabinet are due to meet on Monday, but it is not known if Ministers will approve the vaccine then.
Ninety per cent of eligible Kiwis are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Government records show 3,789,662 of the 4,209,057 eligible New Zealanders aged 12 and over are now fully vaccinated.
Almost four million, a total of 3,969,267 (or 94 per cent), are partially vaccinated.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Wednesday that New Zealand had reached the 90 per cent target. Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins on Thursday said the milestone had been hit by the end of the day.
Hipkins also noted that 90 per cent of the residents within seven district health boards (DHBs), including the three in Auckland, are fully vaccinated.
Across the country 15,000 vaccinators have been involved in the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine.
Hipkins said there was still more to do to raise vaccination rates, including in Māori and Pacific communities.
The latest numbers show 86 per cent of Māori are partly vaccinated, and 75 per cent are fully vaccinated, while Pacific people are 94 per cent partly and 87 per cent fully vaccinated.
New Zealand is now operating under the Covid traffic light system, which allows freedom according to individuals’ vaccination status.
Originally, the Government said it would not adopt the system until every health board hit 90 per cent double vaccination, but later relaxed its stance.
The five DHBs with the lowest full vaccination rates are: Northland, 81 per cent; Tarawhiti, 82 per cent; and West Coast, Whanganui and Lakes, all at 84 per cent.
Most regions now under the strictest red light setting will move to the orange setting on December 30.
They are: Auckland, Taupō, Rotorua Lakes, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu districts.
Northland will remain at the red setting.