The Australian Government has accepted advice from leading immunisation experts to make the Moderna (SPIKEVAX) COVID-19 vaccine available for children aged six years and older from 24 February 2022 – broadening the previous recommendation for children aged 12 years and older.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommendation follows the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval of Moderna for children aged six years and older on 17 February 2022.
Pfizer continues to be available to children aged five and over, and nearly half of children aged between five and 11 have already received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine since it became available in January this year.
With Moderna being made available for children aged six and above, parents and carers will have more choice and flexibility in the vaccine they choose for their child.
The Australian Government has secured more than 25 million doses of Moderna and is well placed to continue to achieve world leading vaccination rates against COVID-19.
Before any COVID-19 vaccine can be supplied for use in Australia it undergoes a rigorous evaluation by the TGA for safety, quality and effectiveness. The TGA will only approve a vaccine once it has established that the benefits greatly outweigh any potential risks.
Moderna has been clinically proven to produce a strong immune response in children. Most side effects are mild and short-term, and similar to those experienced by children who have received the Pfizer vaccine.
For children aged between six and 11 years old, a paediatric dose of Moderna is half the dose currently provided for people aged 12 years and over – two doses of 50μg per dose (0.25mL), eight weeks apart, or three doses for immunocompromised children.
The recommended eight-week interval can be shortened to four weeks for children at risk of moderate to severe COVID-19, for example those with underlying health conditions, in an outbreak or before international travel.
The TGA and ATAGI will continue to actively monitor the safety of the vaccine in children and adults both in Australia and overseas and will not hesitate to take action if safety concerns are identified.
Moderna is not currently recommended for anyone under the age of six years.
Australia was one of the first countries in the world to commence a whole of population COVID-19 booster program. Over 10.9 million Australians have already received a booster dose over recent weeks.
Over 94.3% of Australians have completed their primary course of vaccination. 1.12 million Australian children aged six years and older have received a first dose of vaccination.
All Australians who are currently eligible for their primary course of vaccination, or for their booster dose, and who have not yet acted are urged to make a booking as soon as possible to get vaccinated.
Original content from The Hon Greg Hunt MP media page. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.
Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.