Calls are ramping up across the country for children as young as five to become eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt this week wrote to the head of Pfizer Australia requesting the company submits an application to the Therapeutic Goods Administration "at the earliest possible time" seeking regulatory approval for children aged five to 12 to receive the vaccine.
Anyone over 12 is already able to get the Pfizer vaccine, however with school returning to face-to-face learning and the Delta variant infecting large numbers of children - including in the Hilltops LGA outbreak - there is an increased focus on vaccinating those younger.
The Murrumbidgee Local Health District has confirmed that five of the Hilltops cases are under the age of 18, including a two-year-old who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
Pfizer claims its COVID vaccine is effective for those aged between five and 11 when they receive a third of the normal dose, and that when they are fully vaccinated, antibodies just as strong as teenagers and young adults are developed.
In his letter to Pfizer, Mr Hunt made assurances that Australia has the necessary supply to vaccinate the younger generation.
He said that 40 million Pfizer doses are being delivered in 2021, more than 60 million are procured for 2022, and 25 million for 2023.
"Should the [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] also approve vaccination of this age cohort, vaccination would commence as a priority," Minister Hunt said.
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Dr Ayman Shenouda, who operates a vaccination hub at Glenrock Country Practice, said the TGA is "wise enough" to make a final decision as to whether the vaccine is appropriate for children under 12.
"It all depends on the data and what's happening in Australia as a result of vaccination," he said.
He also said supply should not be an issue, considering children under 12 would only be given one third of the normal dose, and that current supply "could get us through to the end of the year".
Dr Shenouda said the Glenrock vaccination hub is "overwhelmed" with children between 12 and 15 coming forward for the vaccine.
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