Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced that Indigenous children, immunocompromised children, children with underlying health conditions and children living in remote communities aged 12 to 15 will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine as of August 9.

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Minister Hunt said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) medical advice had changed for children aged 12 to 15.

“The Pfizer vaccine will now be made available on ATAGI’s advice for immunocompromised children, or children with underlying medical conditions, Indigenous children, and children in remote communities aged 12 to 15,” he said.

“Although, if any GP wishes to administer before then, then it is free for them, or States, to do so.”

The updated ATAGI advice means these groups will be included under Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“It includes approximately 220,000 children who will be given access now as a consequence of that decision.”

The decision was made after Australia’s national medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), recommended it last week.

“Following the recent approval of the Therapeutic Goods Administration for provisional registration of the Comirnaty (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccine to be extended from people aged 16 years and over to include children aged 12–15 years, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has reviewed available data on the safety and efficacy of the Comirnaty (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 12-15 years, the risk of COVID-19 in this age group, and evidence of wider benefits and risks of vaccinating children,” said an ATAGI statement.

“ATAGI has also reviewed available evidence on specific medical conditions in children that have been identified to be associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19.”

Based on this review, ATAGI recommended Pfizer for these groups.

As of the end of July, 21.4 per cent of eligible Indigenous people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and just 8.7 per cent have received a second dose.

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 are eligible for the vaccine, and as of next Monday, Indigenous children between 12 and 15 will also be eligible.

By Hannah Cross