The 2022 school year may be delayed to ensure all children aged 5 to 11 years old get vaccinated against COVID-19, the Tasmanian Premier has revealed.
Approval for the vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds has not been given by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, leaving this age group unvaccinated when borders open on December 15.
Mr Gutwein said in State Parliament today that he understands parents' concerns, and assured that the government would ensure all children aged 5 to 11 are vaccinated before the school year starts in 2022.
He said this hinged on national approval of the vaccine for this age cohort, which is expected to be given in January next year.
"The most important threshold we have to pass is whether or not the TGA will approve that vaccination. If and when they do we will take every step that we possibly can to ensure that that cohort receives the vaccine as quickly as possible," Mr Gutwein said.
"If it means we need to delay a start to the school year by having children turning up to get vaccinated as opposed to going to their classrooms, then we will do that if that is what Public Health advice is," he said.
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Mr Gutwein said he wanted to make the point that the impacts of COVID-19 for this age group were much less severe than older age groups.
He said the best defence against COVID-19, and best protection for this younger age group, was for the older siblings and other adults in the family unit to be vaccinated.
"All of the advice that I have received to date is that the impact on younger children is much milder, much less severe than the impact on adults. Importantly, that is the evidence that we are seeing from all around the world."
Mr Gutwein also referred to research in the United States that was looking at vaccine impacts on this age groups.
"Bearing in mind the trial that was conducted in the states was a very small sample. That point is being made to me on a number of occasions, by the chief medical officer of this country...a very small sample, somewhere between 1500 and 3000 children.
"Obviously we will see what occurs with that vaccine rollout more broadly in the coming months in terms of how it impacts and importantly protects younger children."