Children ready to vax: Safety of others the spur

Soon all to be vaccinated against Covid-19 are the Sanson family, (clockwise, from top left) Sam,...
Soon all to be vaccinated against Covid-19 are the Sanson family, (clockwise, from top left) Sam, Robbie, Lisa and Olivia, of Gore. PHOTO: SUPPLIED.
The youngest members of Gore’s Sanson family are at the front of the queue for their Covid-19 vaccinations when the rollout for 5- to 11-year-olds begins on Monday - not just for themselves, but for others.

"They [Robbie and Olivia] feel so strongly about protecting people like Stacey," mum Lisa Sanson, who is in Christchurch caring for her sister Stacey Hansen during treatment for cancer, said.

"They are also protecting their grandparents and themselves ultimately, as with Omicron affecting more children it became more important for them."

Parents will be able to book their children in for Covid-19 vaccinations from Monday.

The child’s dosage of the Pfizer vaccine is two-thirds weaker than that for adults and has been approved by New Zealand’s medicines regulatory body Medsafe as safe for use, which followed the same process it does for all vaccines.

A parent, caregiver or legal guardian will need to accompany the child to their vaccination appointments and be able to provide consent for them to be immunised.

Ms Sanson said Robbie (11) and Olivia (10) needed little convincing to receive their vaccinations, and were booked in at their local GP on Monday.

"They have had all their previous childhood vaccinations and I don’t see anything different about this one," she said.

"I didn’t go into it blindly. I did some reading about it, and I feel confident that so many children across the world have had it that that’s a fairly large trial ... The kids are confused as to why other people wouldn’t want to, although we have had family discussions about trying to see other people’s points of view."

Immunisation Advisory Centre medical director Prof Nikki Turner said there would always be people in the community who resisted the evidence provided by the best medical science, but the latest studies showed child vaccines helped to protect the community as a whole.

"For the 5-11 vaccine we have data from over eight million doses in the United States already, which has just been reported, and their risk profile is exactly as we expected: there are no deaths, there are no concerns, there are no unexpected findings.

"There are some myocarditis cases reported, but they look like they are less than in the older age group," Prof Turner said.

International data suggested Omicron spread as quickly in the community regardless of whether children were in school or not, so as many children as possible having at least one shot before the variant became widespread in the community was an important layer of protection.

"Kids having at least one dose will offer some protection against a severe disease - that’s the main outcome."

Vaccination combined with public health measures such as social dis-
tancing, mask use and good hand hygiene could reduce the spread of Omicron, Prof Turner said.

"Anybody who has got any respiratory symptoms should not be going to school or work. They should be staying at home."

About the vaccine

• The child’s version of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is one-third the strength of the adult dose.

• The Ministry of Health recommends children receive two doses, eight weeks apart.

•  Immunisation not only protects the child, but also members of their household.

•  Clinical trials of the children’s version of the vaccine reported, in general, that any side effects  were mild, did not last long, and were similar to side effects from other routine vaccines.

•  Reactions that can occur, usually within one or two days, include headaches, a fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue or general discomfort. Health officials say these are common and show the vaccine is working.

•  Serious allergic reactions are rare but can happen. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, a fast heartbeat, a bad rash all over the body and dizziness and weakness. If these occur, call 111.

Southern clinics vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds include:

Dunedin: Meridian Mall Mass Clinic (bookings only); Mornington Health Centre (coming soon); Mosgiel Health Centre (bookings only); Te Kaika (bookings and walk-in appointments); Green Island Family Medical (coming soon).

Queenstown Lakes: Queenstown Medical Centre (bookings only); Wakatipu Medical Centre (coming soon); Wanaka Medical Centre (enrolled patients only); Aspiring Medical (bookings only).

Central Otago: Alexandra Family (enrolled patients only); Cromwell Family (enrolled patients only); Health Central (enrolled patients only); Cromwell Medical (coming soon).

Cromwell: Junction Health (bookings soon).

Clutha: Lawrence Medical Centre (enrolled patients only); Catlins Medical Centre (coming soon).

Waitaki: Central Medical (bookings only); Oamaru Doctors (coming soon); North End Health Centre (enrolled patients only).

Invercargill: Queens Park Medical Centre (bookings only); Victoria Rooms Mass Clinic (bookings only); He Puna Waiora (bookings and walk-in appointments).

Southland: Fiordland Medical Practice (bookings only); Gore Medical Centre (bookings only); Gore Health Centre (coming soon).




Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter