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Published Monday 17 Jan 2022

The first of the child (paediatric) Pfizer vaccine was received in Wairarapa this morning, just in time for the 17th January start date.

Our first of the youngest cohort was vaccinated at 11:30am, and by 4pm, a total of 33 tamariki had been vaccinated, with more waiting.

There are approximately 4,700 children aged 5 - 11 years in Wairarapa.

The COVID-19 vaccine used for this youngest age group has a lower dose and smaller volume than the adult vaccine and is administered using a smaller needle. Just like the older age group, to be fully immunised against COVID-19 a child needs to get two doses of the vaccine, given at least 8 weeks apart.

The child Pfizer vaccine is only available at the Departmental Building in Masterton for now, and bookings are essential. Bookings can be made online at www.bookmyvaccine.nz. If you need more guidance, you can phone the local team on 0800 Vax Wai (0800 829 924). 

Very soon the other vaccination clinics, including some pharmacies and medical practices, will be able to vaccinate all age groups. The Wairarapa DHB website will provide up to date guidance on all local vaccination opportunities.

DHB Covid Response Lead, Matt Fribbens, says a lot of care has gone into making sure the child vaccination space is as welcoming as it can be.

“We want to encourage our tamariki to relax with us, and for Mum and Dad or their caregiver to be comfortable,” he says.

“It’s important the whanau is accommodated, and we are happy to vaccinate family groups. If there are more than two children to be vaccinated, we encourage people to book multiple time slots so we can take the time required.”

“The parent or guardian responsible for medical decisions of the child needs to provide written consent, and the whole process for children shouldn’t be rushed. Our time slots are a little longer for this age group, and we are taking care to ensure a nice as possible experience for everyone involved.”

Activities, games and toys are available to help keep children busy, and Matt says he is looking forward to the whiteboard walls in the tamariki space being coloured with messages from the children.

“Of course, if parents are due for their boosters they can get them done at the same time. That will help to settle the children and provide reassurance.”

How you can prepare children to be immunised:

·talk to them about what is going to happen

·tell them there will be a small needle and that they will feel a quick scratch or sting

·they may have a sore arm, feel a bit sick or feel tired afterwards

·let them know they are getting vaccinated so they are protected from Covid-19

·maybe plan a fun event afterwards or a treat to look forward to (this will help for the second dose)