Covid-19 vaccine: No supply information, delivery schedule for paediatric doses - Hipkins

8:01 pm on 27 October 2021

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says regulators are poised for final approval to rollout a Covid-19 vaccine for children.

Chris Hipkins

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

An expert panel has recommended the US Food and Drug Administration approve a Pfizer vaccine for ages five to 11.

If the FDA authorises a paediatric vaccine then the final say-so for its usage falls to the Centres of Disease Control in early November.

Hipkins told media today the authorities in New Zealand were getting ready.

"We have the network set up. Obviously we are able to operational that quite quickly. The FDA approval was the first hurdle for our own approval processes in New Zealand. I know that Medsafe are ready to move quickly on an application."

Hipkins told Checkpoint there was an option within the existing agreements with Pfizer to have access to paediatric doses if they were developed.

"Our technical experts will be following very closely as to what is nature of the paediatric doses - is it just a diluted version of the adult dose, or is it a different vaccine?"

He said the question would be "how soon" New Zealand could get access to the paediatric doses.

"We don't have a delivery schedule for paediatric doses because of course they've only just been approved by the by the FDA.

"We're good to go as soon as supply is available and as soon as approval's being given.

"It might take 48 hours or something, but it would be within a few days."

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said more information from Pfizer was expected to be provided to Medsafe early next month.

"They have got that paediatric version of the vaccine ready to go should it be approved for use," Bloomfield said.

"So that's an important part of the consideration of both the approval process here and then the timing of when we can roll out the vaccine."

Auckland primary schools could be resuming classes as soon as mid-November, possibly under a staggered system, the government has announced today.

Children in primary school are aged between five and 12. The Covid-19 vaccine is approved for everyone over the age of 12 in New Zealand.

"We do want kids to be back in the classroom and as soon as it's safe to do that," Hipkins told Checkpoint.

"We have to acknowledge that ... getting back to zero [Covid-19 cases] is not going to happen anytime soon. We are going to have to learn to live with Covid -19 in the community."

He said an announcement would be made "as soon as we can" for primary school students returning to school part-time, but would not say if a decision will come in the next week.

"If we see case numbers stable, and if we see that we're managing case numbers in a way that gives us confidence that we can get kids back at school with the risk being relatively low, with those extra protective measures in place, then I think the 15th [of November] is absolutely a deliverable timeframe."

But there's no news of returning to school for Years 9 and 10.

"The challenge with year 9 and 10 is we have prioritised those students who have exams or assessments that they have to do. And that means that we've already got quite a critical mass of students on secondary school sites at the moment," Hipkins said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs