National cabinet looks to protect under-12s from COVID

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has said governments have not forgotten about protecting children from the risks of COVID, as case numbers climb across the country.

The comments come following discussions at the most recent national cabinet on ways that children under the age of 12 could be kept from being infected with COVID-19.

Mr Barr said Friday's national cabinet meeting examined where clinical trials and research were at in terms of vaccinating children under 12.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have been given provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for use in children between the ages of 12 and 15.

However, no vaccine has yet to be approved for younger children.

"If it does [get approval], then it would be one of the vaccines that are available in Australia, but approval hasn't come through and clinical trials haven't concluded, but work is under way," Mr Barr said.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Picture: Karleen Minney

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Picture: Karleen Minney

"An important message for the community is that this work is occurring, internationally and within Australia, and that kids are not forgotten, and the risk to kids of COVID is not minimised.

"National cabinet takes it seriously and is looking at this."

While national cabinet also discussed what restrictions could ease in COVID-affected states once 70 and 80 per cent vaccination targets were reached, Mr Barr said more work was needed before details were outlined to the public.

The next national cabinet meeting is scheduled to take place in a fortnight's time.

Current vaccination targets are based on the population of people 16 years and older receiving both doses of the vaccine.

Mr Barr told the media on Saturday that extending that target to include 12- to 15-year-olds would include an additional 25,000 people in the ACT's vaccination count.

"Rather than working [to vaccinate] 343,000 people, it would be about 365,000 or 370,000 people," he said.

"The difference in terms of time could be as short as a couple of weeks between hitting 80 per cent of 16 years and older and 80 per cent of 12 years and over.

"If Moderna is available and approved [for 12- to 15-year-olds] and Pfizer is increasing in quantity, then it is worth spending those two weeks to vaccinate those teenagers, and that's a worthy public health goal."

The ACT is set to receive almost 90,000 new doses of the Pfizer vaccine in coming weeks, after a vaccine swap deal with the UK.

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This story 'Kids are not forgotten': National cabinet looks to protect under-12s from COVID first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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