From today, the Pfizer vaccine is available for children aged 5 to 11 years old in New Zealand. 

More than 120,000 doses of the child-sized vaccine have been made available in 500 vaccination centres across the country.

This version of the vaccine contains a lower dose and smaller volume of the vaccine, and is given in a smaller needle.

Like adults, children need two doses at least eight weeks apart to be fully immunised.

There are 476,300 tamariki in this age group eligible to be vaccinated.

In a statement from the Ministry of Health, Starship Pediatric Consultant Dr Jin Russell shared her support for families to have their tamariki immunised.

"We now have real-world safety data from over eight million doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered to children aged 5-11 years in the United States. I have confidence the Pfizer vaccine is very safe for children,” Russell says.

This vaccine has begun to roll out in the US, Canada and Australia.

Of the over 8.5 million doses of this vaccine given to 5 to 11 year olds in the United States, there have only been 100 reports of serious health impacts, primarily a fever.

That is a 0.001 percent occurrence of a serious reaction in this age group, or roughly the same chance as getting struck by a meteor.

More from Re: Covid update Jan 17: 16 new cases, tamariki vaccinations begin

Although Covid-19 generally presents less seriously in children, research is emerging showing infection can lead to serious conditions after recovery - including multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which causes inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and/or gastrointestinal organs.

Children in this age group are also highly likely to catch and spread Covid-19 if not vaccinated. At the end of September 2021, young people under 18 in the United States represented a quarter of new cases and five percent of hospitalisations. 

31.7 percent of all Covid cases in New Zealand have been in people aged 19 and under.

Beyond the health risk this high rate poses to children and their communities, there is the disruption to education caused by the virus. An estimated 168 million children around the world have had their education impacted by school closures.

The Ministry of Health has compiled data and information about the 5 to 11-year-old vaccine and its effects here.

Parents and guardians can find available clinics and appointments at

The Ministry of Health is encouraging parents and guardians to get their Covid-19 booster vaccination at the same time if they haven’t already and if it has been four months since their second vaccination.

Banner image: Young woman after getting her vaccination. Credit: Capuski / iStock

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