Moderna booster talks 'well advanced' but corners won't be cut on child vaccines: Greg Hunt

Greg Hunt says corners won't be cut on child vaccines. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Greg Hunt says corners won't be cut on child vaccines. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Talks to use Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine as a booster are "well advanced" and could be finalised within weeks, Greg Hunt says.

But Australia's Health Minister on Thursday insisted medical regulators would ensure there were "no corners cut" on child vaccinations, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration assessing two applications for children aged under 12.

It came as each state and territory reached 80 per cent first dose vaccination of its 16 and over population, with the national figure poised to tick over 90 per cent imminently.

Moderna has submitted an application to the TGA to be included in the national booster program, which currently only included Pfizer. Mr Hunt said deliberations would be finalised shortly.

"The Moderna booster application is well advanced and under consideration by the TGA. That will occur over the coming weeks," he said.

"I won't pre-empt the outcome all the time. That's a matter for the TGA, but I want to thank our regulators and all of the people who have been assisting them."

The national booster program began in earnest this week, with any Australian aged 18 or over eligible, provided they had received a second dose at least six months ago.

MORE COVID-19 NEWS:

Boosters were first offered to immunocompromised Australians in October and, including that cohort, more than 221,000 booster doses have been administered.

Moderna was currently approved for Australians aged 12 and over, and the TGA was also mulling its application to vaccinate 6- to 11-year-olds.

Pfizer, which has been approved for 5- to 11-year-olds in the US, also submitted its data to the TGA last month.

"I'm confident there'll be a children's vaccine program in Australia. But I ... want to see the additional advice out of the US," Mr Hunt said.

"That's why we have a medical regulator and we have an advisory board. They will work as quickly as possible.

"They will work to make sure that there are no corners cut in ensuring the safety and protection of our children."

Mr Hunt suggested pharmacists would administer the vaccines to young children, pending final approval from the regulators.

"If they say yes ... [pharmacies] are well-equipped, they're doing a great job," he said.

"Our pharmacies have delivered almost 2 million vaccines in Australia, and so I want to thank them. They've played a huge role."

'Very significant milestone'

It came as each state and territory reached a key milestone in Australia's emergence from COVID-19 restrictions: 80 per cent first dose coverage of its 16 and over population.

The development was an all-but guarantee each state would reach the final stage of the national reopening plan, triggered at 80 per cent full vaccination.

Over 90 per cent of the nation's 16 and over population were set to have received at least one dose by Thursday evening.

Mr Hunt described the development as a "very significant milestone", praising the ACT and NSW for fully-immunising over 90 per cent of its population.

"What we're seeing is a country on track to having over 90 per cent of the population double dosed, one of the highest rates in the world, one of the most recently vaccinated populations," he said.

This story Moderna booster talks 'advanced', no corners cut on kids' vaccines: Hunt first appeared on The Canberra Times.