National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants aged 12 to 15 years can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 jab from Wednesday, following approval from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
Victorians aged 16 to 39 will also be eligible for Pfizer from Wednesday, ahead of the nationwide expansion of Pfizer eligibility on August 30, for Australians aged 16 to 29.
Health and aged care minister Greg Hunt said the ATAGI approval for young NDIS participants would help ensure that some of Australia’s most vulnerable people can be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“This is an important protection for over 40,000 children with disability and we encourage their parents and carers to book them in for a vaccination and ensure they can be protected against COVID-19,” he said.
There are currently around 220,000 children aged 12 to 15 who are eligible for Pfizer, including those with specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and children in remote communities.
NDIS participants aged 16 and over became eligible for Pfizer in June. More than 123,000 NDIS participants (46%) over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 28% have received two doses, according to NDIS minister Linda Reynolds.
“This is an increase of more than 90,000 participants and a 300% increase since early June,” she said.
“More than 18,500, or 68% of NDIS participants in shared residential accommodation have received at least one dose, and almost 53% receiving two doses. This is an increase of more than 12,300, meaning we have tripled the number of people vaccinated since early June 2021.”
Reynolds noted that many NDIS participants need bespoke vaccination arrangements that are more complex than those in the general population and aged care facilities.
“This includes the crucial need to ensure informed consent or appropriate decision-making for individuals before the vaccine is delivered and administered,” she said.
The government said it expects further ATAGI recommendations regarding the use of Pfizer for the remainder of children aged 12 to 15 soon. Parents and carers have been advised to use the COVID-19 eligibility checker from August 25 to book their child’s vaccination.