Children aged between 5 and 11 years old are now eligible to receive their Covid-19 vaccine and tonight parents will have the opportunity to put any questions or concerns they have to health experts.
The New Zealand Herald will host a live panel discussion featuring Dr Jin Russell, Dr Anthony Jordan and Dr Matire Harwood from 7pm tonight, offering the opportunity to hear from health experts and ask any questions about child Covid vaccinations in NZ.
Parents and caregivers will be able to ask questions through the comments on the Facebook live stream, and Herald premium subscribers can also ask questions through the comments section on the NZ Herald website.
Dr Jin Russell is a Community and Developmental Paediatrician at Starship Children's Health. She has won many clinical and research awards, including a Starship Foundation Fellowship and a Health Research Council award for her research in paediatric epidemiology and child population health. Over the pandemic, Dr Russell has provided independent expert advice to the Ministries of Health and Education to inform the COVID-19 response for children.
Speaking to her own children, Russell said she told her boys why they will be vaccinated.
"I say to my boys, you are going to be vaccinated to protect yourself against Covid-19, and to protect our family, your grandparents, our community, and other kids at school who may be more at risk from Covid-19 if they catch it."
Dr Matire Harwood is a GP and associate professor at the University of Auckland. Her expertise is in Māori hauora, focused on reducing health inequity by improving Māori health and wellbeing. During the Covid-19 outbreak, Harwood has been the representative of Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā National Māori Pandemic Group on the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group.
Harwood works at the Papakura Marae Health Clinic which has helped care for almost 200 people with Covid during the Delta outbreak - half of them children.
Dr Anthony Jordan is the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre's clinical director for the Vaccination programme and one of only two Māori Clinical Immunologists in Aotearoa. Anthony is a member of Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, the Clinical Technical Advisory Group for Auckland Metro Region and Steering group member for the MBIE Infectious Diseases Platform. He has been on the ground vaccinating, bringing information about the vaccine to the people and heavily involved in outreach activities, including door-knocking campaigns to lift vaccination rates, since the vaccination programme started in March 2021.
Children will need to take two doses to be fully vaccinated and it is recommended that these are given at least eight weeks apart, although the Ministry of Health says the interval can be safely shortened to a minimum of 21 days if needed.
Just like with the adult Covid-19 vaccine process, children will need to stay on-site under observation for at least 15 minutes after taking their vaccine.
If a child has a history of an immediate allergic reaction to other products, including food, medicines or other vaccines, they can still have this vaccine but may be asked to stay a little longer for monitoring.
Monday, January 17, was the first day of New Zealand's vaccine roll-out for kids aged 5 to 11 years old.
As many as 476,000 Kiwi kids are now eligible for their first Covid-19 jab and vaccination centres have been set up around the country to cater for them, with almost 30,000 children under 11 years old having now received their first dose of the vaccine across the country.
However, Auckland's top health officials were forced to apologise after Monday morning saw parents hoping to get their children vaccinated at a brand new drive-through centre in Auckland's Wairau Valley waiting more than an hour when demand overwhelmed traffic management plans.
They said they were confident delays could be kept to a minimum in future.
About child Covid vaccinations:
People could walk in or drive up any time at community vaccination centres, or book in with an accredited GP or pharmacy.
To find out which GPs and pharmacies are able to give paediatric vaccines, visit BookMyVaccine.nz.
Individual bookings are also available at BookMyVaccine.nz, and bookings for two or more members of the whānau can be made by calling 0800 28 29 26.
For information on nearby centres' opening hours and locations, visit the website: www.vaccinateforauckland.nz.