Vaccine rollout for children to start by 10 January

By Our Reporter

The COVID-19 vaccine for children is expected to be approved in the coming days, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.

This will clear the way for children between 5 and 11 years of age to be vaccinated with the rollout expected to start on January 10.

The first shipment of children’s Pfizer doses is due to arrive in Australia before Christmas.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has been watching closely to see how the rollout in the United States was going before making a final decision.

ATAGI is also considering recommending six weeks between vaccine doses for 5 to 11-year olds.

Omicron findings to be known most likely within weeks

Research findings on how effective COVID-19 vaccines are against Omicron are likely to be released within weeks.

It is possible the findings will be released in the next few days.

A global collaboration of over 400 researchers are urgently studying the Omicron variant.

Researchers are testing blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients or those who have been immunised with different vaccines to understand the antibodies needed to block, the virus.

This will help determine whether existing COVID-19 vaccines should be altered to protect against Omicron.

The WHO wants to ensure any decision to alter vaccines is based on the recommendations of global experts, manufacturers and regulatory authorities.

Vaccine inequity leaves the world vulnerable

Low vaccination coverage and inequitable access across the global population leaves us vulnerable to new variants like Omicron.

About 55 per cent of the global population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

In low-income countries, the rate is closer to just 6 per cent.

The more opportunity there is for a virus to replicate within a population, the more opportunity there is for a new variant like Omicron to happen, The Doherty Institute’s Dr Juno said.

Reducing opportunities for transmitting and spreading the virus across large numbers of people, will reduce the chances of mutations occurring.

It’s very likely the world will continue to see new COVID-19 variants emerging, particularly while a large amount of the global population remains unvaccinated.

How long we will need to keep dealing with new variants depends on how urgently global vaccine inequities are addressed and rich countries share and distribute the vaccine to poorer countries.

Health Message

The State Government and health authorities continue to emphasise the importance of getting vaccinated.

Vaccinations are still available at general practises and pharmacies, and no appointment is needed at Victorian government walk-in sites.

Also remember to wear masks and social distance where appropriate, to prevent serious illness and support the return to an ongoing ‘normal’ lifestyle.

(Compiled by the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcaster’s Council)

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