Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says regulators are ready for final approval to launch a Covid-19 vaccine for children.
An expert panel recommended that the US Food and Drug Administration approve a Pfizer vaccine for ages five to 11.
If the FDA authorizes a pediatric vaccine, the final word for its use falls to the Centers for Disease Control in early November.
Hipkins told the media today that New Zealand authorities were preparing.
“We have the network set up. Obviously we can get up and running fairly quickly. FDA approval was the first hurdle to our own approval processes in New Zealand. I know Medsafe is ready to move quickly on an application.”
Hipkins said Control there was an option within existing agreements with Pfizer to have access to pediatric doses if they were developed.
“Our technical experts will closely follow the nature of pediatric dosing – is it just a diluted version of the adult dose or is it a different vaccine?”
He said the question would be “how soon” New Zealand could have access to pediatric doses.
“We don’t have a pediatric dose delivery schedule because, of course, the FDA just approved them.
“We are ready to go as soon as supply is available and as soon as approval is given.
“It could take 48 hours or so, but it would be in a few days.”
Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said more information from Pfizer was expected to be provided to Medsafe early next month.
“They have the pediatric version of the vaccine ready to use in case it is approved for use,” Bloomfield said.
“So that’s an important part of considering both the approval process here and when we can launch the vaccine.”
Auckland primary schools could resume classes in mid-November, possibly under a tiered system, the government announced today.
Children in primary school are between five and 12 years old. The Covid-19 vaccine is approved for everyone over the age of 12 in New Zealand.
“We want the children to return to the classroom and as soon as it is safe to do so,” Hipkins told Checkpoint.
“We have to recognize that … go back to zero [Covid-19 cases] it’s not going to happen anytime soon. We are going to have to learn to live with Covid -19 in the community. “
He said an announcement would be made “as soon as we can” for elementary students returning to school part-time, but did not say whether a decision would be made next week.
“If we look at the stable case numbers, and if we see that we are managing the case numbers in a way that gives us confidence that we can get children back to school with relatively low risk, with those additional protective measures implemented, so I think the 15 [of November] it’s absolutely a deadline. “
But there is no news of him returning to school during Years 9 and 10.
“The challenge with the ninth and tenth grade is that we have prioritized those students who have tests or assessments that they have to take. And that means we already have a critical mass of students in high schools right now,” Hipkins. said.