Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign will be further bolstered after the Moderna jab was given provisional approval for use by teenagers.
The medicine regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, on Saturday announced it has provisionally approved the use of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine for people aged 12 years and older.
This reduces the age cap from a previous 18 years, set early last month.
Moderna’s vaccine has also received regulatory approval for use by the 12 to 17-year-old age group in the UK, Canada, the European Union and Switzerland.
The recommended dose and dose interval is the same as that for the adult population – two full doses given 28 days apart.
This follows Australia’s deal struck with the UK to provide four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the deal, the nation recorded more than 1650 new local infections across NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Twelve people in NSW died, along with one in Victoria, taking the national toll to 1032.
The four million doses will arrive in Australia this month and be paid back later.
On current national vaccination rates, the deal will cover a fortnight of doses but Mr Morrison believes it is still a “great cause for hope”.
Pfizer is now available for Australians aged 16-39 with bookings for 12-15 year olds open from September 13.
The UK doses will be distributed on an equal population share basis, with 60 per cent delivered through the primary care network and 40 per cent through state-based vaccination clinics.
However, health authorities are keen for as many people as possible to book in for AstraZeneca shots, which are in plentiful supply and rated just as effective.
Another 300,000 people received a jab in the past 24 hours as double-dose coverage for people aged 16 and over hit 37.12 per cent
The ACT leads the way, with 44.55 per cent of its over-16 population fully vaccinated, with WA trailing the pack on 33.26 per cent.
Mr Morrison met with state and territory leaders on Friday to discuss what public health measures can be removed when vaccine coverage targets of 70 and 80 per cent are reached.
However, they agreed further consideration was needed.
Updated Doherty Institute modelling on which the national reopening plan is based is expected to be released early next week.
The leaders also received a report on South Australia’s trial of home quarantine for returning travellers and heard from former health department secretary Jane Halton on her updated review of the quarantine system.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese welcomed the vaccine deal, but said it highlighted the government’s failure to acquire enough doses initially.
A record infection rise was fuelled by the spiralling NSW outbreak which led to another 1431 people testing positive, as reported on Friday.
Victoria on Saturday reported 190 new COVID cases, with both states pinning lockdown exit plans on a rapid increase in vaccinations.
Queensland reported one new infection on Saturday – a four-year-old girl, whose attendance at a childcare centre has sparked an isolation order for 1000 families in the state’s southeast.