The Government has signalled the Pfizer-BionNTech Covid vaccine could soon be made available to children.
It comes after Pfizer on Monday announced its Covid vaccine was effective in protecting youth aged 5 to 11 from the virus, and the company would seek US authorisation for this age group soon.
At today's 1pm press conference, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the Pfizer's vaccine trials among children had shown "very positive results".
While the results were early, it was still promising news, he said.
Bloomfield said children were given vaccines about three weeks apart and it generated similar antibodies among them as it did among adults.
Medical regulators would act as fast as possible at the appropriate time to approve the vaccine for children if results remained favourable, he said.
With many children back at school and the highly contagious Delta variant sparking a significant jump in young infections, many parents were anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger kids to be approved.
For primary school-aged kids, Pfizer tested a much lower dose — a third of the amount that's in each shot given to the general population.
Yet after their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults getting the regular-strength shots, Pfizer senior vice president Dr Bill Gruber told The Associated Press.
The child dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects – such as sore arms, fever or achiness – that teens experience, he said.
"I think we really hit the sweet spot," said Gruber, who's also a paediatrician.
He said the company aimed to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed shortly by applications to European and British regulators.
Most Western countries had not yet approved vaccinations for children no under age 12, awaiting evidence of what's the right dose and that it works safely in smaller tots.
Israel, which has one of the highest Covid vaccination rates in the world, had already begun giving the Pfizer vaccine to medically compromised children aged 5 to 11.
New Zealand's Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, Medsafe, had not yet received an application from Pfizer requesting approval of their Covid vaccine for children under the age of 12 years.
"If and when Pfizer does submit an application, Medsafe will prioritise the assessment of all the data for this age group at this time," Ministry of Health spokesman told the Herald.