Much-wanted change to Australia's vaccine rollout announced

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·News Reporter
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Children as young as 12 will be able to book Pfizer vaccination appointments in just a matter of weeks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed.

Following advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), Mr Morrison said he was officially able to open bookings for 12 to 15-year-olds from September 13.

"Principally I would see that happening, especially through the GP network and that provides the opportunity for family vaccinations - for the family to get together across those age groups," he told reporters in Canberra.

The federal government's decision will be briefed to state and territory leaders at the national cabinet meeting later on Friday.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt described the move as an "extremely important next step to the rollout program".

Children aged between 12 and 15 will now be able to access Pfizer vaccine from September 13. Source: Getty
Children aged between 12 and 15 will now be able to access Pfizer vaccine from September 13. Source: Getty

With higher rates of transmission in children amid the nation's Delta surge, experts have been calling for the vaccine to be rolled out to the age group like other countries, such as the US, have.

"Currently it's the younger people and very young children who are getting infected and I've said it again and again, we have to see what's happening in the real world and in real time," Professor Jaya Dantas from Curtin University's School of Population Health told Yahoo News Australia.

Earlier this month NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said her state needed to vaccinate children as young as 12 immediately.

Prof Dantas agreed, insisting the rollout to the age group needs to be "sooner rather than later".

The move appears to have been fast tracked after ATAGI said at the beginning of August a decision was to be made in the "coming months".

The announcement coincides with NSW's announcement face-to-face learning for children will return in a staggered fashion from October 25.

Children from age 12 and up will be offered Pfizer jabs from next month. Source: AAP
Children from age 12 and up will be offered Pfizer jabs from next month. Source: AAP

While the risk of severe illness in children from Covid is far less than adults, University of Western Australia epidemiologist Dr Zoe Hyde said on Thursday if 75 per cent of children were vaccinated, modelling suggested 12,000 hospitalisations would be avoided.

High cases unlikely to derail reopening

Mr Morrison has become increasingly adamant vaccine coverage targets of 70 per cent and 80 per cent must trigger new phases of eased restrictions regardless of case numbers.

Updated Doherty Institute modelling showing it as safe to open up at those thresholds even if there are high case numbers will be presented to national cabinet.

A high quality testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine (TTIQ) system is considered crucial in keeping death rates to a minimum when cases rise under less restrictions.

But research from left-leaning think tank The Australia Institute warns those health regimes could be overrun if cases numbers are allowed to keep rising.

With AAP

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