COVID-19

Vax data for kids ‘within weeks’; 2297 cases in Vic

In what is only the first step of the approval process, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has granted Pfizer provisional determination for the vaccine, clearing the way for it to be urgently considered by the regulator once an application has been received. Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia was expecting Pfizer to submit data on its Covid-19 vaccine for children aged over five in the “coming weeks”.“The TGA, which has already begun its process of assessment, will assess the final data,” he said. “And if they provide a green light, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation will also do their consideration.“And if they provide a green light, then we provide the vaccine.“We’re very confident that all of these processes will proceed, but, as ever, we follow the medical advice.”Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Sonia Bennet said the provisional determination was a “very welcome move”.“As we know, children are less likely to get infected, they are less likely to have severe disease, and also less likely to transmit the infection to others,” she said.“However, as vaccination rates increase in those people eligible to receive vaccination, we will – and, in fact, have seen – increased rates of infection in children.“So, this is a welcome step, I think, and really serves to further protect children and their families.”Dr Bennett said if approved, the vaccination of five to 12 year olds would also help schools stay open.“Schooling and education is very important for children, and as we move into reopening Australia in the phases, we want to see schools stay open as well, and that will further support that, so that’s very welcome,” she said. VICTORIA RECORDS 2297 CASES, A NEW AUSTRALIAN RECORDVictoria has recorded 2297 new locally acquired cases and 11 more deaths on Thursday.The state’s health department confirmed the new figures about 9am, which was a new national record and the first time an Australian state has broken 2000 daily cases.It comes as the portion of the population fully vaccinated against the virus climbed to 61.5 per cent overnight.The new deaths takes the number of lives lost during Victoria’s outbreak to 125 and the toll of the pandemic in Victoria to 945.At least 705 Covid-positive patients are in hospital in Victoria, with 146 of those in intensive care, including 92 cases on a ventilator.It came as Victoria gallops towards its 70 per cent reopening target several days earlier than expected – four days ahead of the Andrews government’s road map date of October 26. Premier Daniel Andrews has vowed that restrictions will be eased on the day the state reaches 70 per cent, even if that is days ahead of schedule.“I look forward to being able to give people absolute clarity about what next week looks like, and the week after, and as far out as we can,” Mr Andrews said.According to latest figures, 86.70 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and over had received at least a first dose of Covid vaccine as of Tuesday — including 0.48 per cent of the group who had a first jab that day.The full vaccination rate for Victoria is at 61.49 per cent, including 1.12 per cent who had their second dose on Tuesday.NED-4653-VIC-vaccine-mandateNED-3869-Covid-19-Exposure-Sites-VictoriaNSW RECORDS 406 NEW CASESAnother 406 new cases of Covid have been recorded in NSW as the state continues to chase down another major vaccine milestone.There were also six deaths.Premier Dominic Perrottet earlier said that he expects NSW will hit the 80 per cent target over the weekend, which means restrictions will reduce further on Monday.However, there are concerns about whether the Premier will have to backtrack on a promise to allow Sydney residents to travel to the regions.Allowing people from Sydney to travel to the bush was originally meant to happen when the state managed to fully vaccinate 70 per cent of its eligible population.But then, the rule change was pushed forward to the 80 per cent mark instead.NSW Covid Exposure SitesAsked on Wednesday if city people could visit the regions next week – assuming the 80 per cent target is hit before then – Mr Perrottet did not make any promises.“We did not expect to be in a position where our double vaccination rate has come forward the way it has and what a great thing that is,” Mr Perrottet said.“Our commitment to the people of our state has been, if we can get vaccinated and reach those targets, we can open up freely.“Having said that there has been concerns raised about regional NSW, if you look at those double vaccination rates.”There will be an emergency meeting held on Thursday.ASTRAZENECA TO END IN AUSTRALIAThe company behind the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine says it will no longer produce the jab in Australia by Christmas, amid hesitancy and criticism it has faced throughout the national rollout.Biotech firm CSL said the UK-invented jab received a lot of criticism despite being approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).The company will close its Melbourne production site because competing vaccines Pfizer and Moderna have outstripped demand for AstraZeneca.“Notwithstanding the perhaps disproportionate criticism that this vaccine’s reputation has experienced, we couldn’t be prouder that the AstraZeneca vaccine has given protection to many millions of Australians,” CSL chairman Brian McNamee told investors.More than 12 million doses of AstraZeneca have been administered across the country since the beginning of the vaccine rollout in late February.“Obviously we don’t want to manufacture something that’s not going to be utilised, and we will have a number of options moving into the future,” said University of Queensland’s Paul Griffin, who sits on AstraZeneca’s advisory board.The announcement came as Melburnians are on track to be released from lockdown as soon as the end of next week, amid a surge in vaccinations.AUSSIE KIDS COULD SOON GET PFIZER VACCINEPfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine could soon be given to children as young as five, with the nation’s medicines watchdog granting the jab a provisional determination allowing the company to apply for approval for use in this age group.Currently it is only available for use in children and adults aged over 12. “The granting of this determination means that Pfizer is now eligible to apply to vary the provisional approval for the vaccine to include children aged 5 to 11 years,” the TGA said in a statement.The determination is the first step in the process and does not mean that Pfizer has applied to sell the vaccine to children this young in Australia or that the TGA will allow it.The company must now submit clinical evidence the vaccine works in this age group.Pfizer asked the US medicines regulator the FDA to approve the use of the shot in children aged five and up on Monday.The FDA plans to meet as early as October 26 to consider whether to approve the vaccine in this age group and there is speculation it could be approved as early as Halloween in that nation.With lockdowns in NSW, the ACT and Victoria easing children are gradually returning to the classroom.Many parents are fearful their children will catch the virus and vaccination in this age group would be a huge boost in confidence.Research and overseas experience has shown the virus is rarely serious in children who have a powerful innate immune system that attacks it before it gets a foothold.And there are risks with the vaccine.Pfizer has proposed giving children a shot that is one-third of the adult dose.A clinical trial in children run by the company was very small and included only 2,268 children, two-thirds of whom received two doses of the vaccine, the others were injected with salty water.By comparison the adult trial involved around 44,000 people.The mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna have been tied to a side effect where the heart muscle and the lining around the heart becomes inflamed particularly in younger men.In 16- and 17-year-old boys the rate could be as high as one in 5,000. This means the TGA would have to carefully consider whether the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks to very young children.TOUGH VACCINE MANDATE FOR NTEssential workers in the Northern Territory will be subject to one of the strictest Covid-19 vaccination mandates in the world to begin in just a month.Chief Minister Michael Gunner said employees who interacted with the public needed to get least one Covid-19 jab by November 13 or they wouldn’t be allowed back to work and faced a $5000 fine.The new directions apply to:Employees at all jobs that involve interacting with members of the public. For example: hospitality, banking, retail, supermarket, receptionists, hairdressers and beauty therapistsWorkers who come into direct contact with people at risk of severe illness from Covid-19, like Aboriginal people or those who can’t be vaccinatedEmployees who work in a high-risk setting where there is a known risk of Covid-19 transmission or outbreakPeople who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential good security or supply, or logisticsThe direction also includes a provision that mandates booster shots for those workers in the future.Employers will be allowed to request proof of vaccination of staff and will be required to keep a register of the vaccination status of all employees.Some exemptions will be available to those who have legitimate reasons not to be vaccinated. It must be supported by medical evidence.“If your job includes interacting with members of the public, then you need to get the jab,” Mr Gunner said.“If you work in hospitality you need to get the jab. If you work in retail or in a supermarket, you need to get the jab.”Mr Gunner warned Territorians: “You have 30 days”. “That is the deadline to keep working in these jobs,” he said.While the chief minister said the overall vaccination numbers were “pretty good” he pointed out there were some “worryingly low rates” in remote communities.AUSTRALIANS’ VERDICT ON VACCINE MANDATES IN THE WORKPLACEMost Australian workers back Covid-19 vaccine mandates in the workplace, a new survey reveals.The September quarterly ­employee sentiment index survey commissioned by workplace software company ELMO found 70 per cent of workers say employers should require their workers to be vaccinated, up from 62 per cent in June.There has also been a 14 percentage point rise in workers who say they would be uncomfortable working in the same places as those who were unvaccinated, from 44 per cent in June to 58 per cent in September.The survey of 1000 Australians also found most respondents were confident the national vaccination rollout is on track, with 66 per cent satisfied in the September quarter compared with 41 per cent in the June quarter.The findings come as NSW enters its second day of freedom for the jabbed, as the state edges closer to the 80 per cent vaccine target.Meanwhile, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will now be made available to all ages in Victoria.It means that people aged over 60 — who were previously only eligible to receive AstraZeneca — can access an mRNA vaccine due to a boost in supplies.Health Minister Martin Foley said Victoria was well on its way to becoming one of the world’s most vaccinated jurisdictions. “It’s time to throw open the doors across the state to mRNA vaccines,” he said on Monday.“With all vaccines open to all Victorians aged 12 and over, and plenty of appointments available, there’s no reason not to book your jab today.“Victorians have done their duty by getting vaccinated in extraordinary numbers – and it’s those Victorians who will be able to go and do the things they love with the people they love when we reach our targets.”Victoria recorded 1612 new locally acquired coronavirus cases and eight more deaths on Monday.The health department confirmed the new figures about 9.30am on Monday after the state recorded its second highest day of new cases the previous day.The new deaths takes the number of lives lost during the outbreak to 93 and the death toll of the entire pandemic in Victoria to 913.At least 609 positive Covid patients are in hospital in Victoria, with 126 of those in intensive care, including 88 cases on a ventilator.There are 19,012 active cases across the state.Authorities remain concerned as the virus continues to spread rapidly across metropolitan Melbourne despite tough lockdown measures.Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said there had been a shift toward the southeast regions of the city in the past 10 days with infections rising to their highest level in Casey on Sunday.He said half of the cases were from six local government areas – Brimbank, Casey, Hume, Melton, Whittlesea and Wyndham.“With only 50 per cent of those cases in the six LGA areas, it means there’s a lot of cases across other parts of Melbourne and regional Victoria,” he said.Lockdown is set to end in Victoria around October 26 when 70 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated.It comes as NSW Health officials announced NSW recorded 496 new cases of Covid-19. The government body also said there were eight deaths of people with Covid-19.The state’s vaccination rates continue to climb, with 90.3 per cent of its residents aged 16 and older now having received their first dose of the Covid-19 jab, while more than 73.5 per cent have had their second dose.NED-4166-Vaccination-by-percentage-of-age-bracket

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