Will children receive a COVID-19 vaccination?

Youth aged 12-15 years are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in New Zealand.

Following Medsafe’s approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15 year olds, the Government has now extended eligibility of the COVID-19 vaccination programme to include this age group.

Taking a whānau-centred approach, as parents become eligible to book in for a vaccination they will now also have the option to book their children aged 12 – 15 years to be vaccinated at the same time.

Consistent with the National Immunisation Schedule, IMAC recommends that a parent or guardian is present to provide verbal co-consent as best practice - particularly in a mass vaccination setting. While children aged 12 and up can legally give their own consent, the preference is that this should be the exception and not the rule.

Please note: until otherwise advised COVID-19 vaccinators working under supervision should only administer the COVID-19 vaccine to people 16 and over.

The safety and efficacy of mRNA-CV has not yet been established for use in those aged younger than 12 years. A clinical trial is ongoing in younger age groups. 

Additional information about vaccinations for 12-15 year olds

  • Healthy young people respond very well to vaccines. In clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine, the 12–15-year age group responded even better than young people aged 16–25-year-olds. (This is similar to what we see with HPV vaccine.)
  • In the UK, the recommendation for this age group is to have only one dose. In part, this is because antibody surveys in UK have found that around half of the children in this age group have previously been infected with COVID-19. NZ has been fortunate in having very low infection rates so far, it also means fewer people have any immunity. In our population, a second dose is needed for everyone, including children, to ensure the highest and longest lasting protection. 
  • There is no rush for children to receive the second dose, allow at least 6 weeks between doses. If the child had significant side effects after their first dose (e.g. flu-like symptoms with muscle aches, fever and needed paracetamol), you can allow 12 or even 16 weeks between doses, and no sooner than 6 weeks.

Other resources:

Frenck, R. W., Klein, N. P., Kitchin, N., Gurtman, A., Absalon, J., Lockhart, S., . . . Gruber, W. C. (2021). Safety, Immunogenicity, and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 Covid-19 Vaccine in Adolescents. New England Journal of Medicine 10.1056/NEJMoa2107456

Last updated: 29 September 2021