CANBERRA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced that the nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to children aged between five and 11 will start on Jan. 10.
The move came after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunizations (ATAGI) signed off on the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s decision to approve Pfizer’s vaccine for children.
However, ATAGI advised that children wait eight weeks between their first and second doses compared to three weeks for adults.
More than 2 million children will become available for the vaccine, with doses to be one third the size administered to adults.
Morrison said parents could have confidence the vaccine is safe.
“This will bring great relief to so many mums and dads, who now have a choice on what’s best for their kids. They can have peace of mind knowing this has the tick from the best medical regulators in the world,” he told reporters.
ATAGI noted that inoculation was particularly important for children with severe illness and those living in areas with high case numbers.
Bookings for vaccine appointments will open in late December and Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government would strongly recommend all children were inoculated.
“Australians can be reassured that by vaccinating their children against COVID-19 they have done everything possible to keep their child safe from this virus,” he said.
“Vaccinating children can also help reduce community transmission and help prevent children passing the virus on to younger siblings, grandparents and the wider community,” said the minister.
Australia on Friday reported more than 1,700 new locally-acquired coronavirus infections.
Steven Marshall, the premier of South Australia (SA), on Friday announced investigations are underway into suspected cases of the Omicron variant in the state.
If confirmed, SA will be another state with Omicron variant, which has spread to New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
As of Thursday 88.9 percent of Australians aged 16 and over were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Enditem