WA children aged between five and 11 can secure their first COVID jab from January 10, the State Government has revealed.
Parents can make bookings for their children from today after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended a “smaller dose” of Pfizer’s vaccine for this particular cohort.
Inoculation will be administered in two doses, with a gap of eight weeks between the first and second jab.
“I urge parents with children five to 11 to get them vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid serious illness from the Omicron variant,” Premier Mark McGowan said.
“The vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect your child.”
The vaccinations will be carried out at State-run clinics as well as participating GPs and pharmacies across metro Perth and regional WA.
With dates and opening hours varying, parents have been told to visit rollupforwa.com.au to secure a spot.
“I know many parents have been waiting for this moment and will move quickly to get their children vaccinated,” new Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said.
It comes amid an anxious wait for test results which are set to reveal whether Western Australia has significant community spread of COVID-19 after a visiting backpacker attended nightclubs and restaurants while infectious.
Hundreds of casual contacts are expected to be identified after the unvaccinated 25-year-old man’s infection was picked up on Thursday.
The backpacker, who arrived from Queensland and is originally from France, had felt unwell on Sunday but didn’t get tested until Wednesday.
He is believed to have been infectious for almost a week, unwittingly attending more than a dozen venues across Perth during that time.
His vaccinated girlfriend has tested negative, as have four household close contacts who are also vaccinated. They have all been moved into hotel quarantine.
Meanwhile Australians will be eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine earlier after the nation’s immunisation body recommended a shorter time frame.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Friday that from Tuesday, January 4, boosters will be brought forward to four months after the second dose, down from five months currently.
Then from Monday, January 31, people who have had two doses can get their booster after three months.
Around 7.5 million Australians will be eligible for their booster shot come January 4 and this will then jump to 16 million at the end of the month once the timeframe is dropped to three months.
States and territories will be able to move ahead of schedule and offer boosters under the shortened eligibility criteria if they are in a position to do so.
Some vulnerable and immunocompromised people will also be able to receive their fourth dose if the new timeframes make them eligible.
Mr Hunt said priority would be given to Australia’s most vulnerable people and the ones who have waited the longest between doses.
“We know that it’s not an immediate thing when the vaccine starts to wear off,” Mr Hunt said.
“It’s a time based thing and so we will prioritise the ones that are most at risk.”