COVID-19 vaccination programme extended to 12-15 year-olds
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. Young people aged 12 – 15 will be able to access the vaccine through a variety of ways most convenient to them and their family/whānau, for example:
- At their general practice or community pharmacy offering COVID-19 vaccinations.
- At a community vaccination hub.
- At other community-based sites such as faith-based locations or marae.
At this stage, a school-based COVID-19 vaccination programme is not planned for 2021.
The most common side effects in young people aged 12 to 15 are like those in people aged 16 and above and the vaccine is considered to be effective with a high safety profile for all approved age groups. A short video about how the COVID-19 vaccine works in New Zealand is available with more information.
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.
With enough vaccine available for everyone eligible to be vaccinated including 12-15 year olds, the extension provides more opportunity to provide the best possible protection against COVID-19 in New Zealand.