ACT set to give half of young children a COVID shot before school starts

Ian Bushnell 10 January 2022 25
Emma Nokolic and daughter June Tattam at AIS vaccination clinic

Emma Nikolic and daughter June Tattam on their way into the AIS vaccination clinic. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Almost half of the ACT’s children aged five to 11 will start or go back to school at the end of the month with a first pediatric jab of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, about a third of the adult dose.

The vaccination program for those children kicked off today across ACT Government clinics, pharmacies and GPs, and that’s a relief for Emma Nikolic and her 10-year-old daughter June Tattam from Kambah, who lined up at the AIS Arena clinic for her first jab.

Like many, Ms Nikolic thought that the worst may have been over before Christmas, but with the rising number of cases, including some in her immediate family, she was feeling a little anxious about what it meant for June returning to school.

“It’s actually a bit of a relief to be here, really,” she said. “June’s the last in our family to get vaccinated, so it’s a big relief to know that she’s on her way to being fully vaccinated.”

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Ms Nikolic, who has had a booster shot, said the family talked a lot about vaccination in the household and doing its bit not only to protect themselves but the community in general, and those who may be more vulnerable.

She said the family had been more cautious in the past few weeks and mindful about gatherings and wearing masks.

“Just knowing that we did have an unvaccinated person in our family and also because I have elderly parents and you want to make sure that we don’t put them at risk as well,” Ms Nikolic said.

June admitted to a few nerves but understood the importance of being protected.

“I’m a bit nervous, but afterwards, I get a lollipop,” she said, acknowledging that she will need to do it all again in eight weeks.

Clinical nurse Brendan Higgins

Clinical nurse Brendan Higgins at the AIS vaccination clinic: no issues with supply. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Canberra Health Services clinical nurse Brendan Higgins said vaccinations for five to 11-year-olds were booked out for the next two weeks, but with supply of 7000 doses a week, the program was on track to deliver a first shot to about half of the 40,000 to 45,000 children in that cohort before school resumes.

“We’re allowed to do around 14,000 [over the next two weeks], and that includes going to a GP and the other clinics that are available,” he said.

Mr Higgins said there were no issues with supply and the ACT was expecting new doses every week.

He said some parents were getting a booster shot as their children received their first jab, with 10 minutes allocated instead of the usual five to allow for any anxiety about needles.

Mr Higgins said the ACT was also expecting a lot more booster doses to come online, “so there’ll be more for the adults”.

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By lunchtime, about 400 children had passed through the AIS clinic. About 1600 appointments are available each day at the AIS, and 1000 of those were for young children in the new cohort.

Mr Higgins expected that to continue during the week.

As is common at the moment in the healthcare sector, there have been some staff shortages, but the team has been able to negotiate these with minimal impacts.

“We have a really good workforce here that has done an extremely tough job over the last little while. People have worked over Christmas and through all the public holidays,” Mr Higgins said.

“The shifts that we have at the moment, we’re actually able to fill for the majority of the time, which is really nice. And as I said, our team has done a really great job coming together doing extra shifts and helping out where they can.”

As well as the AIS clinic, vaccinations for children aged five to 11 are also available at the Access and Sensory clinic in Weston Creek, and participating GPs and pharmacies.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations, visit the ACT COVID-19 website.

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25 Responses to ACT set to give half of young children a COVID shot before school starts
Bekah Glaz Bekah Glaz 7:01 pm 11 Jan 22

Unfortunately 8 weeks between doses - so won't be double vaxxed before school returns :/

Anyone hear anything about 11yo that are only a few months away from 12?

    Chris Glasspool Chris Glasspool 8:05 pm 11 Jan 22

    Bekah Glaz everywhere here taking bookings but no one has stock.

    Bekah Glaz Bekah Glaz 8:37 pm 11 Jan 22

    Chris Glasspool son is high risk - I was calling as soon as it opened, and first jab is tomorrow night. Still not sure if he'll be going to school when it starts back... first year of high school, too...

    Hopefully supply comes in soon for you guys. The government clinics should have some, though - I know others tried to get into GPs first - but got in reasonably quickly through the government one.

    Chris Glasspool Chris Glasspool 8:40 pm 11 Jan 22

    Bekah Glaz bookings here opened last week, still taking them.

    People then being turned away when they turn up because there’s nothing left.

Paul Waters Paul Waters 9:15 am 11 Jan 22

that's excellent news

James Ellis James Ellis 7:31 am 11 Jan 22

You’re a legend June! Well done.

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 12:18 am 11 Jan 22

That unbearable sound of a hall full of wailing kids in terror, feeding of one anothers desperate cries for escape. Must be a lovely place.

    James Ellis James Ellis 7:30 am 11 Jan 22

    Cary Elliot Johnson was there yesterday - for about half an hour - this is not what’s happening. For one the vaccine is so small that you don’t feel it. You’d also be surprising how many of these kids actually want it.

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 7:41 am 11 Jan 22

    James Ellis all good. Just an account from someone working there. More likely the occasional screamer 😉

    James Ellis James Ellis 7:45 am 11 Jan 22

    There was one child down the end who had a little cry. Certainly no wailing.

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 7:47 am 11 Jan 22

    James Ellis i can tell you from my workplace, that they certainly don't like blood collection needles, that's for sure.

    James Ellis James Ellis 7:48 am 11 Jan 22

    Cary Elliot Johnson them things are huge

    Christine Rusan Christine Rusan 9:19 am 11 Jan 22

    James Ellis kids are so impressionable

Jimblah Cubillo Jimblah Cubillo 12:16 am 11 Jan 22


Jessie Price Jessie Price 10:20 pm 10 Jan 22

Go June, you legend! 💪🏼💖🌟

Rich Fallon Rich Fallon 9:06 pm 10 Jan 22

What is scary is that Pfizers own documentation says "The safety and efficacy of COMIRNATY in children and adolescents aged less than 16 years

of age have not yet been established. Limited data are available."

    Bonny Sherd Bonny Sherd 9:20 pm 10 Jan 22

    Rich Fallon my 4 won't be having it yet untill there's more long term research.

    Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 10:40 pm 10 Jan 22

    Rich Fallon you do know who they expect are going to provide that data for them?

    Tara Feeney Tara Feeney 11:07 pm 10 Jan 22

    Joanne Mitchell that's what i was told about our jabs, we're essentially test bunnies for the labs😒

    Jo Price Jo Price 8:04 am 11 Jan 22

    Tara Feeney there vaccines are SO MUCH safer than ones tested on humans in the past.

Maree Commens Maree Commens 7:55 pm 10 Jan 22

I hope they are more effective than the adult doses appear to be - just saying

    Dan Rayner Dan Rayner 8:27 pm 10 Jan 22

    Maree it’s been incredibly effective. Thousands of cases and really only a few deaths (sad as they are).

    Maree Commens Maree Commens 9:31 pm 10 Jan 22

    Dan Rayner so why masks and why people still paranoid. Businesses are being destroyed continually and many won't come back or will be in debt for decades.

    Hannah Zurcher Hannah Zurcher 9:35 pm 10 Jan 22

    Maree Commens because this is a multi-solution problem. We're incredibly fortunate in the technology we have now - look at the history of pandemics and how good we have it in comparison.

    Dan Rayner Dan Rayner 10:20 pm 10 Jan 22

    Exactly Hannah, vaccinations, masks and social distancing have all worked in concert to slow the rate of uptake and ease the potential pressure on our health system - it’s hard to see what it has prevented when it has worked - instead of thousands of cases and 20-30 in hospital it might have been hundreds of thousands of cases all at once and that tiny proportion of hundreds of thousands would be instead tens or hundreds in hospital

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