COVID-19 vaccination and children

Young people aged 12 to 15 can get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Learn about the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccination, providing consent, and vaccinations for children under 12.

How we know the Pfizer vaccine is effective in young people

The Pfizer vaccine is proven to be highly effective in young people after 2 doses are administered. That means if they do develop COVID-19, they are far less likely to fall seriously ill, and less likely to transmit the virus to others.

Across all age groups, studies have shown that about 95% of people who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine were protected against getting COVID-19 symptoms. For the 12 to 15-year-old age group, Pfizer has reported 100% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 infection.

What you need to know about the Pfizer vaccine

Vaccine safety in young people

Medsafe is responsible for approving the use of all medicines and vaccines in New Zealand. The Pfizer vaccine was provisionally approved for people in New Zealand aged 12 to 15 in June 2021.

Medsafe only approves a vaccine in Aotearoa once they are satisfied it has met strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality.

Millions of people aged 12 to 15 have now been vaccinated around the world, and no additional safety concerns have been raised.

Research and data on vaccinating young people — Ministry of Health (external link)

Side effects

Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are similar in young people to those seen in adults. These side effects are generally mild and should only last 1 or 2 days.

Side effects of the Pfizer vaccine

Allergies and the vaccine

As with all medicines, there is a risk of an allergic response after this vaccine. This is why everyone is asked to wait for at least 15 minutes.

The Pfizer vaccine is safe for people with food allergies. Unlike some other vaccines, there is no food, gelatin or latex in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and it is not grown in eggs.

If someone has a history of an immediate allergic reaction to other products, including food, medicines or other vaccines, they can still have this vaccine but are asked to stay a little longer (at least 30 minutes) for monitoring. Vaccinators are trained to recognise these symptoms and have the appropriate equipment to treat people on site.

While children aged 12 and above have the right to give their own consent, we recommend young people discuss vaccination with their parents, whānau or a trusted support person.

A health professional will also discuss the vaccine with them before they get vaccinated and answer any questions they have. If they have a good understanding, they can say yes or no to getting the vaccine. If they would prefer, a parent or caregiver can provide consent instead.

COVID-19 vaccine informed consent for young people aged 12-15 years policy statement (PDF, 176 KB) (external link)

School-based vaccinations

At this stage, a school-based COVID-19 vaccination programme is not planned for 2021.

Children under 12

Children under 12 are not yet able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

While the Pfizer vaccine has been trialled overseas in children aged 5 to 11, it is not yet approved for use in New Zealand for this age group.

Medsafe  New Zealand’s medicine and vaccine regulator is currently reviewing the trial results. If Medsafe approves the use of Pfizer in children under 12, Cabinet will make a decision on whether children under 12 are able to get vaccinated.

You will need to wait until your child turns 12 to book a vaccine. At this stage, you cannot book an appointment before their 12th birthday.

The age of the person will be checked before they are vaccinated.

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