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Australia’s drug regulator has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in 12 to 15-year-olds, federal health minister Greg Hunt said Friday as the country battles an outbreak of the Delta variant in three states.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration thoroughly reviewed the domestic and international evidence before extending its approval for the Pfizer vaccine to this age group, Hunt said in a statement.
Similar approvals for the vaccine’s use in children were passed several weeks ago by regulators in the United States, the European Union and Britain.
Until now, the Pfizer vaccine had only been approved for use in Australia for people 16 years of age and older.
The Australian vaccination panel will advise on which groups of children should be prioritized for the rollout of the vaccine and when it should be administered, Hunt said.
With just over 32,400 COVID-19 cases and 915 deaths, Australia has handled the pandemic much better than many other developed economies, but stop-and-start lockdowns and slow vaccine rollouts have led to frustration.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologized on Thursday for the slow vaccination program as his government aims to accelerate vaccinations and meet a target to vaccinate the adult population by the end of 2021.
So far, just under 15 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated.
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