COVID-19 Immunisation For 5 To 11 Year Olds
COVID-19 Immunisation For 5 To 11 Year Olds
Parents and caregivers have the opportunity to protect their tamariki (children) aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 with the child version of the Pfizer vaccine.
Immunising children aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19
COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone aged 5 and over. They are also available to tamariki from 6 months who are at greater risk of severe illness if they were to get COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds
Parents and caregivers have the opportunity to protect their tamariki aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 with the child version of the Pfizer vaccine.
Cabinet approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine to protect this age group on 21 December 2021. This followed advice from the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, and Medsafe approval. Medsafe only grants approval for a vaccine once it is satisfied that it has met high standards - for safety and for how effective the vaccine is at protecting you.
It's a child specific vaccine
Tamariki have a children's version of the Pfizer vaccine - with a lower dose, a smaller amount and a smaller needle than the adult version.
2 doses - at least 8 weeks apart for most children
To be fully protected, tamariki need 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, at least 8 weeks apart. A longer time between doses gives a better immune response, which is likely to last longer.
The time between doses can be shortened to a minimum of 21 days for some tamariki, if needed. These tamariki include those with severe heart, lung or immunity problems. They are most at risk of severe disease and needing to spend time in hospital. Talk to your healthcare professional if you think this applies to your child.
A third primary dose for some children with severe health issues
Severely immunocompromised tamariki aged 5 to 11 can now receive a third primary dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It will give your child extra protection, and may help reduce the chances of them passing on the virus to others.
A doctor, nurse practitioner or other health professional needs to prescribe a third primary dose. To find out if your child can have this, make a free appointment with your family doctor.
The third dose should be 8 weeks after the second dose. Sometimes that gap can be reduced to 4 weeks. It depends on current or planned treatments.
An animated image showing how the COVID vaccine protects us
See an animated graphic that briefly explains the importance of getting the COVID vaccine - and how it can keep us safe from all variants of the virus, including Omicron. The Spinoff's Toby Morris and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles created the graphic.
Animated graphic - the importance of getting the COVID vaccine
Can my child still have the COVID-19 vaccine if they have had COVID?
The recommendation is to wait 6 months after testing positive before getting any COVID-19 immunisation.
Even if your child has had COVID-19, they should still get any COVID-19 immunisations they are eligible for.
A gap of 6 months gives the immune system time to recover from the infection to get the most benefit from immunisation. Getting vaccinated sooner than 6 months might mean your child's immune response is not as strong.
Why immunise my child aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19?
The virus can be unpredictable. COVID-19 generally has mild effects in tamariki, with symptoms similar to a cold. But, some tamariki become very sick and need to spend some time in hospital.
As with adults, if your child is infected with COVID-19, they may pass on the virus to other people. Immunising 5 to 11 year olds helps protect whānau (family) members whose health makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
In the video below, Dr Erik Andersen, paediatric neurologist at Capital and Coast District Health Board, talks about the benefits of immunising tamariki.
In this video, tamariki share what's on their minds about COVID-19 and the vaccine.
Groups of children at higher risk from COVID-19
Tamariki with some medical conditions do have an increased risk of getting severe COVID-19 and ending up in hospital. These conditions include breathing conditions (like severe asthma and cystic fibrosis); diabetes; disabilities involving the nervous system (like cerebral palsy); heart conditions (like rheumatic heart disease). It's important that these tamariki have the COVID-19 vaccine.
What about consent for the COVID-19 vaccine for children?
Tamariki will need consent given on their behalf before they can have either dose of the vaccine. No child aged 5 to 11 will be able to have the COVID-19 vaccine without the express consent of one of their parents or caregivers.
Each whānau can decide if they want this extra layer of protection for their child.
Making an informed decision
Watch a short video about making the decision to vaccinate your child against COVID-19 and being informed.
How can I talk to my child about having the COVID-19 vaccine?
Watch the video below for suggestions about how parents and whānau can talk to tamariki and help prepare them for the immunisation process.
In the video below, paediatrician Dr Teuila Percival says it's best to be open and transparent with children about the COVID-19 vaccination. Explain to your child why they're having a vaccine and what to expect.
In the following video, psychologist Paul Prangley gives advice on how parents and caregivers can talk to their children about being immunised against COVID-19.
Supporting tamariki with disabilities to have the COVID-19 vaccine
Watch the video below of Dr Pete Watson, Chief Medical Officer at Counties Manukau DHB, talk about why immunisation with the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine is appropriate for tamariki with disabilities.
What if my child has a needle phobia?
Watch Jaki, a vaccinator, talk about how she helps vaccinate tamariki and people with needle phobias and sensory issues.
Where can children have the COVID-19 vaccine?
There are many places around New Zealand that offer COVID-19 vaccinations for tamariki aged 5 to 11.
You can arrange a vaccination for your child by:
- booking online through Book My Vaccine - it is fast and easy to book or change your appointments
- call the COVID-19 Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week) to make a whānau booking or if you are booking for more than 1 child (interpreters are available)
- check if your local GP clinic is offering child vaccinations for their enrolled patients - contact them directly or check on the Healthpoint website
- find a walk-in or drive-through centre offering child vaccinations near you
What can I expect after my child's COVID-19 vaccine?
Like all medicines, the Pfizer vaccine may cause side effects in some tamariki. This is the body's normal response and shows the vaccine is working.
You can take a look a the Ministry of Health and 'Unite Against COVID-19' pamphlet 'After your child's Pfizer vaccination'. The pamphlet discusses possible side effects and when to seek medical attention.
More information about COVID-19 immunisation in children aged 5 to 11
The COVID Vaccination Healthline is available 7 days a week, from 8am to 8pm on 0800 28 29 26. They provide vaccination information and help people who are unable to book their vaccination appointment online.
What about other immunisations for tamariki during COVID-19?
Most community locations will provide a whole whānau approach. Tamariki and members of their whānau can have their usual childhood immunisations as well as COVID immunisations and/or boosters. All vaccinators will have specific training about immunising children.
This page last reviewed 17 December 2023.
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