Parents and caregivers have the opportunity to protect their tamariki aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19, by being immunised with a child (paediatric) formulation of the Pfizer vaccine.
The vaccine used for tamariki is a children’s version of the Pfizer vaccine, with a lower dose and smaller volume.
Tamariki need two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected. We recommend these are at least 8 weeks apart. The interval can be shortened to a minimum of 21 days if needed, for example if your child is starting treatment with immunosuppressants.
The Ministry of Health recommends immunising your child to keep them safe and to help protect your whānau and community from COVID-19.
Download the following brochures or see information on our webpage below:
- COVID-19 Protecting your tamariki from COVID 19 - vaccines brochure Te Reo Māori
- COVID-19 Protecting your tamariki from COVID 19 - vaccines brochure English
- After Your Childs Vaccination - brochure Te Reo Māori
- After Your Childs Vaccination - brochure English
Benefits of immunisation against COVID-19
Immunising 5 to 11-year-old tamariki helps protect whānau members whose health makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 virus can be unpredictable. While COVID-19 generally has milder effects in children, with symptoms being similar to a cold, some children become severely ill and require hospitalisation. Tamariki can also have rare complications such as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) that may require intensive care. Tamariki can also suffer long term effects (known as long COVID), even after mild cases of COVID-19.
Like adults, if your tamariki are infected with the COVID-19 virus they may transmit the virus to other people.
Safety of the Pfizer vaccine
The Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds has been through clinical trials with children in this age group. In general, the side effects that were reported were mild, didn’t last long, and were similar to side effects from other routine vaccines.
The vaccine is recommended for tamariki with food allergies. Unlike some other vaccines, there is no food, gelatin or latex in the Pfizer vaccine.
The only reason that someone may not be able
to have this vaccine due to allergy is if they have had a severe allergic response (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the Pfizer vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. The child (paediatric) Pfizer vaccine has gone through the same rigorous approval process as other routine childhood vaccines.
No clinical trials were skipped and no corners were cut in the testing of its safety.
Preparing your tamariki for vaccination
Provide encouragement to help your tamariki feel relaxed.
Make sure they have had something to eat and drink.
Check they’re wearing clothes that make it easy to see and access their upper arm.
If they’re a little nervous, they’re welcome to take something to the appointment that will distract them, like a soft toy or phone.
If your tamariki have had previous reactions to immunisations, let your vaccinator know, speak to your whānau doctor prior to the appointment, or talk to a trained advisor on the COVID Vaccination Healthline – 0800 28 29 26.
A parent, caregiver or legal guardian will need to accompany your child to their appointment(s) as the responsible adult and be able to provide consent for them to be immunised.
At the appointment, both the adult and child can ask as many questions as they like.
As with any immunisation, your child is likely to have a sore arm and get redness, pain or swelling at the injection site. Other reactions that can occur, usually within one or two days, include:
a fever (feeling hot)
nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, diarrhoea
general discomfort (feeling unwell, aches and pains).
These are common and show that the vaccine is working. Encouraging rest and offering plenty of fluids will help.
Severe reactions to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are very rare and usually occur within a few minutes of the vaccination. For this reason, you and your child will be put in an observation area for monitoring by clinical staff to ensure they receive any medical treatment if this occurs.
Book or walk in
COVID-19 immunisations are free for everyone. From 17 January, parents or caregivers can
go to a walk-in clinic with their tamariki or use BookMyVaccine.nz to get immunised with their usual health provider, hauora, or general practice. Make sure you select the appropriate age range.
If you want to book for more than one child or you’re unable to book online, you can call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am–8pm, 7 days a week) and we’ll make the booking for you and answer any questions. Interpreters are available.
For more information and links to research, visit:
Have questions about the vaccine?
Talk to a trained advisor on the COVID Vaccination Healthline – 0800 28 29 26 8am–8pm, 7 days a week