Australia has approved the administration of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for children as young as six months old with serious health conditions such as lung disease or type 1 diabetes from 7 September.
Announcing the decision on Wednesday, the health minister, Mark Butler, says about 70,000 children would now be eligible for two doses of vaccine, to be given eight weeks apart.
He also expressed hope that Australia may have passed the peak of the winter Covid wave after a sharp drop in national daily case numbers.
Butler said the government had accepted an Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (Atagi) recommendation to make the Moderna vaccine available to the cohort of at-risk children. He said about 70,000 children would now be eligible for two doses of vaccine, to be given eight weeks apart.
“The Albanese government has accepted the medical advice and made Covid-19 vaccination available to our most vulnerable young children who have significant health conditions,” Butler said.
“The Australian government has secured supplies of this new vaccine for younger children and these vaccines will shortly distributed to vaccination sites.”
Butler said the new groups eligible include children with congenital cardiac disease, chronic lung disease, type 1 diabetes, severe cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, and chronic neurological or muscular conditions
Vaccine appointments are not yet available, and will only be offered at specialist clinics or paediatric hospitals from later this month. Only a “small proportion of vaccination sites” will deliver the paediatric vaccine, with locations to be advertised on the government’s vaccine clinic finder.