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Australia: What to know about the new Covid jab rollout for five to 11-year-olds

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The rollout of the Covid vaccine for kids between the ages of five and 11 has begun in Australia as authorities battle to contain rising transmission rates among children.

Covid-19 vaccines will go into the arms of five to 11-year-olds across the country from Monday, but as of Wednesday parents can now book their children in for their vaccine online or over the phone.

The new vaccination drive comes amid rising cases of the virus in children, with infection rates in Victoria increasing from 2 per cent to 30 per cent in just a month.

There were also 325 childcare centres closed due to exposure to Covid in NSW on Wednesday.

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The rollout of the Covid vaccine for kids between the ages of five and 11 has begun in Australia as bookings for the weakened jab opens to the public (file image) © Provided by Daily Mail The rollout of the Covid vaccine for kids between the ages of five and 11 has begun in Australia as bookings for the weakened jab opens to the public (file image) A Covid-19 testing station in Hindmarsh, Adelaide. The new vaccination drive comes amid rising cases of the virus in children © Provided by Daily Mail A Covid-19 testing station in Hindmarsh, Adelaide. The new vaccination drive comes amid rising cases of the virus in children

Children in the five to 11 age bracket will be given two doses eight weeks apart. Each dose will be a third as strong as the vaccines given to those over the age of 12.

In Victoria, 18 state-run vaccination centres have created nature and animal-themed areas for the children to make them more comfortable while getting the jab.

The vaccine is a special formulation and will be delivered in doses small enough to generate an immune response that's as strong as a full adult dose.

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The aim is to prevent them from developing severe illness or transmitting the virus to another person.

'I know many parents will be very keen to get their children vaccinated so they can join the rest of us and face a future with more confidence,' Victoria's Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said.

NSW Chief Paediatrician Matthew O'Meara said the weakened vaccine has been tested on thousands of children first and second doses have been given in other countries and is safe for children aged between five and 11.

Dr O'Meara said any side effects were minor.

'Many kids complain about a bit of a sore arm for a day or two afterwards,' he said.

'But the headache, muscle ache, fever, chills and nausea ... is pretty uncommon in children and can be managed with the usual pain-relieving medications.'

Dr O'Meara acknowledged parents may be weighing up the risks and benefits of giving a young child a vaccine but stressed Covid-19 was usually mild in children.

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'In fact, many children will have no symptoms at all and a large number will have mild symptoms of a cough, cold, runny nose and fever that lasts up to five days.'

But some children can become seriously ill and require hospitalisation if they aren't vaccinated. About one or two in every 100 would need to go to hospital and one in 1000 would end up in intensive care.

'We expect those numbers to be lower with the Omicron strain but it's still not an entirely benign disease,' Dr O'Meara said.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt. Covid-19 vaccines will go into the arms of five to 11-year-olds from Monday © Provided by Daily Mail Minister for Health Greg Hunt. Covid-19 vaccines will go into the arms of five to 11-year-olds from Monday

Premier Dominic Premier says the rollout will ensure schools open on time for the first day of the new term in 2022.

'We want a seamless transition back into the school year,' he added.

Currently, vaccinations are offered to children aged 12 to 15 and so far 81.4 per cent have had their first dose and 78 per cent have had two.

In the 16 years and older cohort - which includes adults - 95 per cent have had one dose and 93.6 per cent have had two.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce said the vaccine take-up in the 12-15 years group had been 'really rapid' and she'd like to see the same again in the five- to 11-year-old cohort.

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Those wishing to book a vaccine for their children online can visit this website here.

AUSTRALIA'S COVID VACCINE ROLLOUT IN CHILDREN FIVE TO ELEVEN:

Children as young as five will be eligible for vaccination against Covid-19 from January 10.

Children in the five to 11 age bracket will be given two doses eight weeks apart. Each dose will be a third as strong as the vaccines given to those over the age of 12.

The vaccine is a special formulation and will be delivered in doses small enough to generate an immune response that's as strong as a full adult dose.

Polling by the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne shows about half of parents surveyed intend to get their children aged between five and 11 vaccinated.

One-quarter of 1259 parents surveyed in July were against it while almost one-third were unsure.

Side effects, convenience and accessibility were key factors influencing parents' willingness to vaccinate their children.

Pfizer vaccines to be given to children contain one-third of the standard dose following final approval from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

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