Parents and caregivers will have the opportunity to help protect tamariki aged 5 to 11 by immunising against COVID-19 now.

The benefits of immunisation

Immunisation is an important way we keep tamariki safe, like being sun smart or wearing a seatbelt.

It protects our tamariki from many serious diseases and stops disease from spreading within your whānau and the community.

In Aotearoa, children get free immunisations against 12 diseases, including whooping cough (pertussis), measles and polio.


How the vaccine protects tamariki

The Pfizer vaccine is highly effective. If vaccinated tamariki do develop COVID-19, they are far less likely to fall seriously ill. It also greatly reduces the risk of it being transferred to others in your whānau. This helps to protect younger children who can't get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Clinical trial results for those aged 5-11 showed the Pfizer vaccine was 90.7% effective against getting COVID-19 symptoms, and no severe symptoms of COVID-19 developed. 

Find out more about the Pfizer vaccine here


Effects of COVID-19 on tamariki

COVID-19 generally has mild effects in tamariki, however some tamariki can become very sick and require hospitalisation.  

Additionally, tamariki can suffer from rare side effects that require intensive care,  such as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C). They can also suffer some long-term effects (known as long COVID), even after mild cases of COVID-19.

Like adults, if infected with COVID-19 tamariki may transmit the virus to other people. Immunisation for 5 to 11-year-olds helps protect whānau, especially members who may have underlying health conditions or younger children who can't get vaccinated. 

Find out more about COVID-19 symptoms here 

 


The NZ Herald sits down with health experts Dr Jin Russell, Dr Matrie Harwood and Dr Anthony Jordan to answer your questions about COVID-19  vaccinations for tamariki (5-11 year olds).

Why immunising our tamariki is important 

Making an informed decision

How you can talk to and prepare your tamariki

What parents and caregivers may like to know 
Is the tamariki dose smaller?

Yes, tamariki doses of the Pfizer vaccine are smaller. 

It has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults but is one third of the size. 

 

How many doses are required?

Tamariki need two doses of the immunisation to be fully protected.

It is recommended that these are given at least 8 weeks apart. The interval can be shortened to a minimum of 21 days if needed, for example if your child is starting significant immunosuppression treatment.

Where can tamariki get immunised?

Most vaccination centres, GPs and pharmacies are offering tamariki immunisations. You can book online at Book my Vaccine or walk into any of our vaccination centres. Your local GP or pharmacy may require a booking. 

Some immunisation clinics may also offer other childhood immunisations such as MMR. It is okay to get other child immunisations at the same time.

Find your local immunisation location here 

Is the vaccine safe?

The Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds has been through clinical trials with tamariki in this age group. In general, the side effects that were reported were mild, didn’t last long, and were similar to side effects from other routine vaccines.

Unlike some other vaccines, there is no food, gelatin or latex in the Pfizer vaccine, so is recommended for tamariki with food allergies. 

Medsafe is responsible for approving the use of all medicines and vaccines in New Zealand and only so once they are satisfied their strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality have been met. 

Research on vaccinating young people can be found here

 

 

Are there any side effects?

Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are similar in young people to those seen in adults. These side effects are generally mild and should only last 1 or 2 days.

The most common side effects are:
  • a sore arm from your injection — you can put a cold cloth or ice pack on it to feel better
  • a headache
  • feeling tired
  • feeling feverish or sweaty

Find out more about side effects here 

  • nausea
  • aching muscles.

After vaccination, they will need to stay for at least 15 minutes so that a health professional can monitor for any immediate adverse reactions.

How to prepare tamariki for their immunisation

It's important that all tamariki feel safe and calm when having their immunisations. Here are a few ways you can help them:

  1. Provide encouragement to help tamariki feel relaxed
  2. Make sure they have had something to eat and drink
  3. Check they’re wearing clothes that make it easy to see and access their upper arm.
  4. If they’re a little nervous, they’re welcome to take something to the appointment that will distract them, like a soft toy or phone.

After the vaccination it may cause side effects in some children [After your child's Pfizer vaccination]

Please let your vaccinator know at the beginning of your appointment if they have had previous reactions to immunisations.

Or please speak to your whānau doctor prior to the appointment, or talk to a trained advisor on the COVID-19 Vaccination Healthline - 0800 28 29 26.

Giving constent

A parent, caregiver or legal guardian must accompany tamariki to their appointment and provide consent. 

At the appointment, both the adult and tamariki can ask as many questions as they like.

You can download the consent form here. These will also be available at your local community vaccination centre, GP or Pharmacy.