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Pfizer jabs approved for Australian children

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The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved the Pfizer vaccine for five to 11 year olds, which Health Minister Greg Hunt expects will start rolling out from January 10.

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Hunt said vaccine experts at the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation will give their nod of approval soon after the group’s final checks.

“It is about keeping our kids safe, keeping our families safe, keeping all Australians safe,” Hunt told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

He said many 12- to 15-year-olds have stepped forward for a vaccination in just 11 weeks since their program began.

He added 76.7 per cent in this age group have had one dose, while 67.8 per cent are fully dosed with two jabs.

TGA deputy secretary John Skerritt says the vaccine will be one-third the dose of the adult version but have the same vaccine molecule and will come in a different colour.

“We are confident in the safety of this,” Skerritt told reporters.

“We have joined a number of other countries, although we are among the first.”

Hunt said a children’s Moderna vaccine is also being considered by the TGA.

The decision comes against the backdrop of worries over the new coronavirus Omicron variant.

Hunt said he had been briefed by Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and his deputy Michael Kidd earlier on Sunday.

“We’re reviewing, daily and weekly, the travel restrictions,” Hunt said.

“There are no plans to change the current proposals,”

Skerritt said more than 40 countries have now reported Omicron infections.

“Early indications are that it provides a milder course of disease, although usually there’s about a two week lag to work out whether there are going to be cases of hospitalisation and severe disease,” he said.

“So that’s why the lead-up period to Christmas and exercising caution is so important.”

-with AAP

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