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The Government has announced that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine has been approved for 12 to 15-year-olds in New Zealand.
Provisional decisions were made by Medsafe, announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday in a post-Cabinet press conference — joined by Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
It follows careful consideration, including up-to-date scientific and medical data with the approval of use in young teens.
PM Ardern lead the announcement with an assurance that the Vaccine is safely approved for use and not rushed in New Zealand.
“I’m pleased to announce that we’ve been informed that Medsafe has provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer Vaccine for New Zealanders aged twelve to fifteen years,” PM Ardern said.
“There are around 265,000 children in this age bracket, and our existing Pfizer purchase order contains more than enough doses to cover two Vaccines for this entire group.”
“We would not need to buy any more to cover them, and nor will one will miss out as a result of Medsafe’s advice.”
“Medsafe only grants consent for a Vaccines use in Aotearoa once its satisfied that the Vaccine has met standards for safety, efficacy and quality.”
Previously, only those at the age of 16 or older could take the Vaccine in New Zealand.
Trials from Pfizer in April showed one hundred per cent efficacy which follows this major announcement.
Countries such as the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and the United Kingdom have since approved the age band.
Trials involved 2,260 youths in the United States, where there were 18 cases of Covid-19 in the placebo group and none in the vaccinated following a ‘with or without’ evidence scheme prior to infection.
The 265,000 teens within the age band will be eligible and vaccinated by the end of the year.
The Government will be set to review advice by the Ministry of Health about the decision from Medsafe later this month, meaning no vaccinations will be undertaken until then.
Dr Bloomfield described the processes that have been and are going to be undertaken regarding this approval to the younger age band.
“The technical advisory group that has convened — discussed this briefly last week. They were waiting for the firm decision and approval by Medsafe, which has just been gazetted and are going to consider again tomorrow,” Dr Bloomfield said.
“They have no concerns about safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the Vaccine. The efficacy has been shown in a very good study published in the Journal of Medicine that it is safe and efficacious for this group.”
“What they were most interested in was giving some advice about timing and the best way to ensure that this group is accessed fairly so that we particularly get those Māori and Pasifika populations because we know that those groups have a younger age structure.”
“It will be particularly important to reach down into that twelve to fifteen year age group.”
“I’m expecting that they will provide some advice on those issues specifically, and then we will reflect that on the advice to Cabinet.”
As soon as Cabinet can approve the use, children will be given priority to be vaccinated immediately.
More vaccination trials are happening involving children from ages 6 to 11 — the Ministry has been observing the developments and taking note.
Schools are most likely to play a part in the rollout, with a possibility for this group to be vaccinated simultaneously with family members as the ramp-up begins in July.
Image: SUPPLIED/Ministry of Health [Government Newswire – license applicable]
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