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Young children can now get Moderna vaccines after they were given the final green light today from Australia’s expert immunization panel.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization has approved a smaller dose of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine Spikevax for six to 11-year-olds, following its provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration last week. The TGA becomes the first regulator in the world to approve Moderna for this age group.

Health Minister Greg Hunt is speaking to reporters now. You can watch live below.

So far 49.4 per cent of five- to 11-year-olds have had at least one dose of Pfizer’s vaccine, and the federal government wants to see at least 76 per cent of that age group immunised [p59ylw] against the virus.

Health Minister Greg Hunt encouraged families to come forward to get their children vaccinated.

The TGA approved the Moderna vaccine for young children after carefully considering the data from the KidCOVE clinical trial which was conducted through Canada and the US, which included nearly 4000 children aged six to 11.

“The study demonstrated that the immune response to the vaccine in children was similar to that seen in older age groups,” the TGA said in a statement last week.

The clinical trial data also showed the safety profile was similar to that of adults.

“Australia is one of the highest childhood vaccination rates in the world already, but I’ve can go higher, and we wanted to go higher,” Minister Hunt said.

The Moderna vaccine for kids is a half-dose, the same as the Moderna booster.

“There has been a lot of talk: kids don’t get very sick with covid, why are we exposing them unnecessarily,” said head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration Adjunct Professor John Skerritt.

“Well, in Australia, we believe there have been at least six deaths of children with COVID-19. That’s a very significant impact. There’s also a serious condition between 40 and 50 kids in Australia have, called multisystem inflammatory syndrome. I get a bit grumpy when people say ‘COVID-19 doesn’t effect kids, it’s just a cold’. Try telling that to the parents of the kids who got sick.”

“The safety profile of the vaccines, while impressive overall, is even more impressive in children pre-puberty.”

“If rare but serious adverse events occur with vaccines – and this is almost a statement for every single vaccine – they tend to occur within five to six weeks after a dose. That’s different from medicines. We now have had vaccinations in this country for over a year, and globally since late 2020. I think we’ve now crossed 11 billion doses globally. That’s one of the largest data sets we’ve ever had on safety for a vaccine.

“I think that’s a very commanding dataset,” he said.

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