16 Dec 2021

Covid-19: Medsafe gives provisional approval for Pfizer vaccine for children

1:20 pm on 16 December 2021

Medsafe has granted provisional approval for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years old.

A 6-year-old child holds a sticker she received after getting the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Child Health Associates office in Novi, Michigan on 3 November 2021.

file pic Photo: AFP

The provisional approval is for two doses of the paediatric vaccine, given at least 21 days apart.

The Pfizer vaccine for this age group has been adapted for use on children, said Medsafe group manager Chris James.

"The Medsafe team has worked tirelessly this year to ensure that Covid-19 vaccine applications are prioritised and urgently reviewed, while still maintaining the same scrutiny that all medicine applications undergo before they can be approved," James said in a statement.

"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."

The Covid-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group is now providing advice to the Ministry of Health to inform Cabinet's decision on whether to use this version of the vaccine in New Zealand.

In a statement, National Immunisation Programme director Astrid Koornneef said work was well underway to prepare for the potential rollout, but Cabinet has yet to make a decision.

"If Cabinet agrees to use the vaccine in New Zealand, we want to have systems in place to roll out the vaccine safely and efficiently, at the earliest opportunity," Koornneef said.

"This means completing the necessary training and working with the community to roll out the vaccine, including through whānau-based approaches."

If approved by Cabinet, the Ministry of Health said the rollout is expected to start in New Zealand no later than the end of January 2022.

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