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Vaccinating children against COVID-19 will help the Northern Territory avoid future outbreaks, experts say

Medical experts say the best way in the Northern Territory to prevent another outbreak of COVID-19 is to vaccinate children against the coronavirus as a top priority.

Their advice came after the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday for children aged 5 to 11.

On Monday, the lockdown in Catherine was extended for another 24 hours after NT recorded a new case of coronavirus in a three-year-old girl.

The Commonwealth government has said it expects to start rolling out the vaccine for children aged 5-11 from January 10, in time for the start of the 2022 school year, once it is approved by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI).

Children in this age group will get a third of the dose of the vaccine that is currently given to adults, said Cassandra Perry, professor of viral immunology at Murdoch University.

“It’s a smaller dose, but it’s from the same type of vaccine, so it will still produce the antigens in the children’s cells,” she said.

“Then the kids can create their own immune response to it.”

How will the subtraction work?

The Northern Territory Government has not yet announced any specific plan to deliver vaccines to children aged 5 to 11, including approval or supervision that may be required to deliver the vaccine to primary school students in schools.

On Monday, Health Minister Natasha Veles said the government would “provide the opportunity for families to either receive the vaccine in a clinic or through schools as appropriate.”

“Younger children may need more support from their parents, guardians and caregivers during the launch of this program,” she said.

“We will make sure that the parents are fully informed and that consent is given.”

Ms Fyles said she would welcome the TGA’s provisional approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children over the age of five.(ABC News: Hamish Harty)

The Northern Territory government made vaccines available to children aged 12 to 15 in August.

The Ministry of Health has been delivering vaccines to children in that age group through school immunization programs since early September.

Ms Phyllis said offering vaccinations to younger children would help keep students in school in the future.

“Unlike other jurisdictions, we haven’t had a major disruption to our school years during 2020 and 2021, and we know very well that a vaccine for this primary school age group is important to keep it that way,” she said.

Dr Charles Payne, the Northern Territory’s chief health officer, said authorities were “well prepared” to approve the vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.

“We will get our software up and running as soon as possible,” he said.

“We were expecting it. We were hoping for it. It’s the next big advantage for us in the fight against COVID in the Territory, especially with the age profile of our communities.”

Why is it so important to the New Testament?

Data submitted to the Northern Territory Government from the Doherty Institute shows that the Northern Territory has a younger life expectancy, particularly in remote communities, compared to other jurisdictions.

In August, Premier Michael Gunner said the average lifespan for the Northern Territory was 32 years and about 21 years in the most remote communities.

That’s well below Australia’s average age of 38, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Ian Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland, said that although Covid is often “less severe” among young people and children, “younger groups are certainly involved in transmission”.

He said widespread vaccination of children would “help stop familial transmission of infection to older groups and those with underlying health conditions.”

This is particularly important in remote Indigenous communities, Dr Mackay said, where overcrowding and chronic disease have been a major concern.

“The spread of infection will spread in a house like this where people live closely together,” he said.

“But if you are vaccinated, you prevent that from happening to some extent — not completely, but you reduce the risk of that transmission.”

omicron effect

Dr Berry said the initial trend of young people escaping the worst symptoms of COVID is starting to change with the alarming new variant of Omicron in South Africa.

“This new species is causing more diseases in young children,” she said.

“The virus is mutating and we want to be on top of it.”

Dr. Perry said the new alternative was particularly devastating among unvaccinated South Africans who were already battling other infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis C, which reduce their immunity.

It highlighted similar health challenges with the indigenous peoples of the Northern Territory, who suffer from a disproportionately high rate of preventable diseases and chronic health conditions.

“We really need to get vaccination rates up in the Northern Territory,” Dr. Perry said.

“Their immune response is really compromised, and then the virus comes on board and it can take a head start.

“If we protect younger and older residents, we can change our family trees in the future if we act now.”

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