COVID-19 Immunisation For 5 To 11 Year Olds

COVID-19 Immunisation For 5 To 11 Year Olds

The COVID-19 vaccine is part of a multi-layered approach which offers the best protection against COVID-19. All these measures can help children return to school safely, reconnect with whānau and friends, and do what they enjoy. Parents and caregivers now have the opportunity to protect their children aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 with the child version of the Pfizer vaccine. 

How immunising children against COVID-19 can protect your whakapapa

 

Vaccinating children can protect them from severe illness and protect the wider whānau, says Dr Matire Harwood, Ngāpuhi, GP at Papakura Marae. Papakura Marae runs a COVID clinic, with around 200 people with COVID-19 coming through the clinic, many with young children. 

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Facebook Live 27 January 7:30pm: Ask an expert - COVID-19 immunisation for 5 to 11 year olds

When it comes to tamariki COVID-19 vaccinations, it's natural to have questions. We all need accurate and reliable information when we make a decision for our whānau. Join a live chat about COVID-19 immunisations for 5 to 11-year-olds, on Thursday 27 January at 7.30pm

The experts are:

  • Dr Lily Fraser (Ngai Tahu), GP and Clinical Director at Turuki Healthcare
  • Dr Hinemoa Elder (Te Aupouri, Ngāti Kurī, Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi), MBChB, FRANZCP, PhD, MNZM
  • Dr Teuila Percival  (New Zealand born Samoan), QSO FRACP 
  • Dr Jin Russell (community & developmental paediatrician at Starship Children's Health)
  • Moderator: Mihingarangi Forbes (Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Maniapoto) 

 Image of Facebook LIve annoucement - expert panel on COVID-19 vaccine for children

The COVID-19 vaccine - one of the defences against COVID-19

Watch this video, created for the Spinoff - Toby Morris and Siouxsie Wiles explain how vaccines power up the fight against COVID-19, even if you're fit and healthy. 

COVID immunisation for 5 to 11-year-old children adds another layer of protection to existing measures:

  • masks
  • immunisation of older siblings and adults
  • ventilation
  • distancing
  • hand washing
  • staying home and getting tested if unwell

Think of each public health protection against COVID-19 as layers of Swiss cheese.

The COVID-19 vaccine is one of these layers - one slice of cheese.

No single intervention is perfect at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Each intervention, or layer of cheese, has holes in it. 

You can read more about COVID-19 and the layers of Swiss cheese at the Spinoff website.

COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds

Parents and caregivers now have the opportunity to protect their children aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 with the child version of the Pfizer vaccine.

Cabinet approved 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.

The COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years is a child specific vaccine. It's different to the adult version. It's only one third of the dose.

There are 476,000 children aged between 5 and 11 who can now get their first dose, and their second dose at least 8 weeks later.

You can find out about COVID-19 vaccine safety and possible side effects on the page about children aged 12 and over

Why immunise my child aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19?

The virus can be unpredictable. COVID-19 generally has mild effects in children, with symptoms similar to a cold. But, some children become very sick and need to spend some time in hospital.

In New Zealand's 2021 DELTA outbreak, about 24 in 100 COVID-19 cases have been in children aged 11 or under.

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 members whose health makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

In the video below,  Dr Pete Watson, Chief Medical Officer at Counties Manukau DHB, says it's important we do everything we can together to protect ourselves, our whānau and our communities. Child immunisation is critical to reduce the likelihood of infection in our communities and to stop the transmission to vulnerable populations.

In the video below, Dr Erik Andersen, paediatric neurologist at Capital and Coast District Health Board, talks about the benefits of immunising tamariki, including:

  • why it is important for tamariki to get immunised
  • how the paediatric vaccine is different from the adult version
  • whether your child with asthma or allergies is OK to get the vaccine

Groups of children at higher risk from COVID-19 

Children 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 children have the COVID-19 vaccine.

What about consent for the COVID-19 vaccine for children?

Children 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 family can decide if they want this extra layer of protection for their child.

How can I talk to my child about having the COVID-19 vaccine?

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, registered psychologist Paul Prangley gives advice on how parents and caregivers can talk to their children about being immunised against COVID-19.

Where can children have the COVID-19 vaccine?

There are many places around New Zealand that offer COVID-19 vaccinations for children 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 doctor 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 - check the listing of vaccination centres near you

Supporting tamariki with disabilities to have the COVID-19 vaccine

The Disability Team is available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 8pm. They will support your whānau and can book an vaccination appointment for you. They can answer any questions you may have about your child's needs including accessibility, free transport options, or any affects the vaccine may have on your child.

Check some resources to support children and young people with disabilities have the COVID-19 vaccine

Watch the video below - immunisation with the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine is appropriate for tamariki with disabilities says Dr Pete Watson, Chief Medical Officer at Counties Manukau DHB.

What can I expect after my child's COVID-19 vaccine?

Like all medicines, the Pfizer vaccine may cause side effects in some children. This is the body's normal response and shows the vaccine is working.

You can check a 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.

Check the pamphlet (PDF, 260KB)

Image of leaflet 'COVID-19 vaccine: After your child's Pfizer vaccination'

A pamphlet about COVID-19 immunisation in children aged 5 to 11

You can check the 'Unite Against COVID-19' website for a pamphlet about COVID-19 immunisation in children aged 5 to 11. See the pamphlet from the Ministry of Health, Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Karawhiua (PDF, 646KB).

Pamphlet cover - Protecting your tamariki from COVID-19

What about other immunisations for tamariki during COVID-19?

Most community locations will provide a whole of whānau approach. Children 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.

Find out about getting other immunisations safely for your tamariki

This page last reviewed 13 January 2022.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it