Paediatric COVID-19 vaccine receives provisional approval

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

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for this age group is an adapted version of the vaccine used for people aged 12 and older. The provisional approval is for two doses of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, given at least 21 days apart.

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.

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 Ministry of Health’s National Immunisation Programme Director, Astrid Koornneef, says that work is well underway to prepare for the potential rollout of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in New Zealand.

Medsafe approval is the first step in the process, and the COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group is now providing advice to the Ministry of Health to inform Cabinet’s decision whether to use the vaccine in New Zealand.

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. 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 rollout of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is expected to start in New Zealand no later than the end of January 2022.

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