Australia’s medical regulator was examining data around the use of Moderna’s vaccine in children as young as 12, and Mr Hunt said once it’s approved by both the Therapeutic Goods Administration and ATAGI it will be made available to kids.
Lieutenant General John Frewen, head of Operation COVID Shield, said the vaccination rollout was gathering pace.
“Parents get your kids booked in, and .., have a bit of patience while you get bookings as you can, but we look forward to getting 12 to 15-year-olds through the door,” he said.
To date, nearly 18.4 million doses have been administered across the country and almost one third of the eligible population aged 16 and over are fully immunised.
ATAGI said the spread of the Delta variant among younger children was a contributing factor to the decision to allow children from the age of 12 to get the Pfizer vaccine.
“In the many countries experiencing Delta variant transmission, including in Australia, the median age of people with COVID-19 is falling, with adolescents and children accounting for a higher proportion of disease in the context of vaccinated older age groups,” the group said.
“Overall hospitalisation rates for COVID-19 in the adolescent age group are higher than for other diseases such as influenza.”
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said it was important to highlight that there were still far fewer hospitalisations from children with the Delta variant in Australia.
“Almost entirely, the disease in children is much less severe than it is in adults,” he said.
Professor Kelly said there was “nowhere in the world that has a program for vaccinating children under the age of 12” so it was important to provide a “cocoon effect” by immunising those around them.
“Parents, please get vaccinated. Older siblings will also be part of that cocooning effect,” he said. “Teachers, please get vaccinated. Anyone who has anything to do with young kids, please, get vaccinated. I have made my point clear. Now is the time to make an appointment and get the vaccination started.”