COVID-19: Health authorities looking at COVID-19 vaccines for under 5s, Dr Bloomfield reveals

The Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has confirmed health authorities are looking at evidence and seeking advice on COVID-19 vaccinations for Kiwis under the age of five.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is currently available in New Zealand for Kiwis age 12 and over with 4,867,818 doses administered to date. Of those, 3,171,029 were first doses and 1,696,789 were the second.

During the 1pm COVID-19 update on Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the Government is looking to see whether the vaccine could be used for Kiwis aged five to 11.

"The decision on over fives and their vaccinations will be based on advice from our experts," she said. 

"They are the ones that will make an assessment around all of the data and evidence for that group. It will always be a health decision - always - and that will be where that decision is made."

Dr Bloomfield said the evidence is "promising" and he confirmed health authorities are considering whether the vaccine could be used for children aged under five.

"Equally we are also watching the studies on under 5s and the key thing here is if the vaccine is effective and safe for the whole population, that's a huge advantage because it helps to protect those younger members of the population," he said. 

"In the meantime there is a key message there and as professor Hendy said - there is no magic number, it's as high as possible - but getting vaccinated protects not just you but it protects our frail older people, our children, our immunocompromised people who can't be vaccinated and it protects our vulnerable communities as well."

Ardern pointed out that during the current COVID-19 outbreak, 13 babies under 1-years-old have been infected by COVID-19. 253 children under 12.

"The vaccination for that age group is about protection for that age group, not just if it helps us to achieve high rates," she said.