“The 5- to 11-year vaccine rollout is going faster than the start of the 12- to 15-year program and is ahead of kids programs in the US, Israel and Germany. But there is always more we can do. ”
Pediatrician and epidemiologist Fiona Russell agreed parents’ willingness to have children vaccinated was likely dampened as many children experienced mild illness.
“But a small number end up in hospital with severe disease, and you do not want your child to be that statistic. Data from Denmark shows that rates of hospitalization are roughly half that in those children who are fully vaccinated compared to those unvaccinated, ”Professor Russell said.
“We do not want to be in the situation where a variant that causes more severe disease pops up, and we only have half of children vaccinated. It is also an insurance policy for children for the future. ”
The associate director of Clinical Research at the National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance, Nick Wood, said parents have also deferred vaccination after a child’s infection, with the current advice to wait four to six weeks after having the virus.
“When the rollout began on January 10 there was a rush and now families are back at school the logistics of getting to clinics is more difficult. What we are seeing is very similar to the United States, where initial demand dropped quickly. ”
Vaccination is also beneficial in reducing risk of long COVID and multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a post-infection condition Professor Wood said is under “watchful surveillance”.
Danielle Robson said she consulted her GP before taking her son Felix, 5, and daughter, Pella, 8, to be vaccinated at a Leichhardt pharmacy.
“Back in January so many places were booked out. A lot of our local doctors weren’t vaccinating young kids. I spoke to my GP and I got trusted advice and took the kids to our local chemist. I did not go down the rabbit hole of all the different opinions online. ”
At her Drummoyne pharmacy, Silvi Destro said she was vaccinating about 60 children each day in early January, but that has now fallen to about 10 a day.
“Interest has really dropped off, for boosters as well. I am trying to get more kids to come in using chat groups at my daughter’s local school to see if any parents want to bring their kids in.
“We have plenty of vaccines available not enough uptake. We are asking people to call friends to try and fill spots. ”
Last week the medical regulator gave the first green light for young children to receive Moderna vaccines. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved two 10 microgram doses 28 days apart for six to 11-year-olds, and ATAGI is now looking at the advice before giving the final approval.
Earlier this month, older high school students became eligible for their COVID-19 booster shots after the country’s expert vaccine panel gave the go-ahead to extend the program to 16- and 17-year-olds.
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