The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on Wednesday signed off on the vaccine for the approximately 70,000 young children at a higher risk of developing severe illness from Covid-19. At this stage, the vaccine will only be recommended to those in the age group who are severely immunocompromised, live with disability, or have complex health conditions. Health Minister Mark Butler said there were no plans to expand the role out to all under-fives due to the “low likelihood of severe illness”.Some 250,000 of the under-five Moderna vaccine will arrive in Australia on Wednesday evening, with another half a million slated to arrive in September. But parents wanting to book their young children in will have to wait until next month as the government works through the “logistic arrangements” of the roll out. “I want to stress to families that there are not arrangements in place right now to book a vaccination,” Mr Butler said.“Information will be distributed over the course of the next couple of weeks about the way in which those booking arrangements can be made.”It’s anticipated a large number of the vaccines will be rolled out via paediatric hospitals but Mr Butler indicated he was working through how to make the jab accessible to those in regional and remote communities.ATAGI recommended the vaccine to be administered in two doses eight weeks apart. “Australia will be one of the first countries in the world to roll out a vaccination program for children aged under five,” Mr Butler said. It comes as Australia’s medical regulator announced it had commenced evaluation of the Pfizer vaccine for under-fives. Mr Butler said the government had been engaged in “fruitful” negotiations with the pharmaceutical giant to secure supply should the Therapeutic Goods Administration and ATAGI approve the vaccine. Those negotiations also include discussion about securing the company‘s Omicron variant targeting vaccine. “Those negotiations are continuing,” the Health Minister told reporters.
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