Government still hasn't ordered Covid vaccine for kids aged 5-11

Chris Hipkins’ admission in Parliament today that the Government hasn’t yet ordered paediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 year-olds, and that Pfizer hasn’t yet applied for approval of use in New Zealand should prompt him to move with urgency to sort the situation out, says National’s Covid Response spokesperson Chris Bishop.

“Vaccination for 5-11 year-olds can’t come quickly enough, given every extra person vaccinated in New Zealand raises our overall level of protection. This week, an expert committee advising the Food and Drug Administration in the United States recommended it authorise the vaccine for 5-11 year-olds and the FDA is expected to do so very soon.

“Chris Hipkins has known about this timeline for weeks but admitted to me in Parliament today that New Zealand has not actually placed orders for vaccines for 5-11 year-olds.

“Our current supply of Pfizer vaccine can’t be used for children. The paediatric doses are one-third the dose given to adults and teenagers, and each vial contains 10 doses for the younger age group. The vaccine vials also have a unique label and different colour for the cap.

“Other countries, such as Canada, have signed specific agreements for the paediatric doses from Pfizer. Chris Hipkins told me in Parliament today that our contract with Pfizer entitles us to order the paediatric doses, but that we haven’t done so yet. Why not?

“To make matters worse, Pfizer has not yet applied for approval to Medsafe for paediatric doses.

“Chris Hipkins needs to jump on the phone to Pfizer straight away during the Parliamentary recess and tell them New Zealand needs supply of paediatric doses and that he wants an application from them in New Zealand as quickly as possible.

“While he’s on the phone he could also place an order for some Pfizer booster shots for New Zealanders aged 12 and above, which the Government still hasn’t done.”