Thursday, June 20, 2024

COVID child vaccination survey returns safety tick of approval

Results from the Ministry of Health’s Post Vaccine Symptom Check survey have shown that most tamariki aged 5 to 11 did not experience a reaction after receiving the child Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the Ministry said today.

It said the majority of tamariki who experienced a reaction after receiving the vaccine had only experienced a minor reaction. 

National Immunisation Programme Group Manager Post Event, Dr Tim Hanlon says that based on the survey results from nearly 18,000 parents and caregivers across Aotearoa New Zealand, no new safety concerns have been identified for the child Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and the reactions are similar to those seen in the clinical trial. 

“Overall, just 21% of caregivers reported that their child experienced a reaction after their vaccination. The most commonly reported reactions were tiredness, a reaction at the injection site, headaches and body pain. These are all known and expected side effects of the vaccine,” he said.

“For tamariki who missed school or other daily activities, the majority were reported to have missed one day or less after their vaccination. Less than 1% of tamariki visited a doctor after vaccination.” 

The survey did not ask whether the missed activities or visit to a doctor were due to a vaccination reaction. 

Responses from parents and caregivers were captured via Post Vaccine Symptom Check, a text message survey, sent by the Ministry of Health to a random selection of the population after their COVID-19 vaccination. 

“Post Vaccine Symptom Check is an ‘active’ reporting system, and the first of its kind in Aotearoa New Zealand. It complements the existing ‘passive’ reporting, which is managed by Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM).”

“We know what to expect after COVID-19 vaccinations based on data from clinical trials. Having our own reporting systems in Aotearoa New Zealand helps us to ensure that the vaccine is working as expected in a local context,” says Dr Hanlon. 

Over 260,000 tamariki across the motu have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Aotearoa New Zealand has a good reporting culture in comparison to other countries, meaning that people are more likely to submit a report after vaccination, even for something minor like a headache or sore arm.”

“Given the large number of vaccinations happening in a short timeframe, we expect to receive a high number of reports about reactions to the vaccine. The important thing we look at is the context of the reports we receive, which helps us to identify if there are any trends that might need to be investigated further. 

“It’s important that you report how you feel after your COVID-19 vaccination, even if it seems minor. You don’t have to be a healthcare professional to submit a report, and you don’t need to be sure that the vaccine caused the reaction you experienced. 

“The reports we’ve received to date are reassuring that the COVID-19 vaccines are working the way we expect them to, and we will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the lifetime of their use in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Dr Hanlon said.

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