COVID-19 vaccine to be available February 2023 for immunocompromised and high-risk under 5 year olds

Following provisional approval by Medsafe, the Director-General of Health has recommended, and Ministers have approved, the use of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six months to four years who are at higher risk of severe disease if they were to catch COVID-19. It is anticipated that the vaccine will be available in February 2023.

Eligibility will be limited to children who are severely immunocompromised, or who have complex and/or multiple health conditions which increase the risk of severe disease from COVID-19 (following the Starship Child Health table of underlying comorbidities). This eligibility is based on advice from the COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group (CV-TAG).

The vaccine for this age group is an adapted version of the vaccine used for five to 11 olds. The provisional approval is for three doses, with the second dose given three weeks after the first dose, followed by a third dose given at least 8 weeks after the second dose.

CV-TAG does not currently recommend vaccination for children aged 6 months to 4 years who are not in these risk categories for severe COVID-19.  These children have a very low likelihood of severe illness from COVID-19.

“We continue to review the latest evidence from overseas to ensure our vaccination programme is based on the most up-to-date research and real-world experience,” said Dr Andrew Old, Deputy Director-General and head of the Public Health Agency.

“While most children under 5 do not currently need COVID-19 vaccination, the advice from CV-TAG was clear that a smaller subset of children are at higher risk should they catch the disease, and that this vaccine will assist them,” said Dr Old.

A further announcement will be made in early 2023 when timing of vaccine delivery is confirmed. When timing is confirmed, bookings for this vaccine will be available online on Book My Vaccine or by phoning Healthline.

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