Children aged 12 to 15 living with a disability will be added to Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout from Wednesday.
The decision is expected to affect 40,000 National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants who did not qualify under other eligibility criteria.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the expert immunisation panel was due to finalise advice on vaccinating all 12- to 15-year-olds this week.
“We are quietly hopeful that will be a double green light after the TGA,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved Pfizer for children in the age bracket.
The government is waiting for the tick from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
Children between 12 and 15 who are immunocompromised, have an underlying medical condition, are Indigenous or in remote communities were already eligible.
Coronavirus outbreaks across Australia have sparked concerns more children are being infected with the Delta variant.
Labor’s disability spokesman Bill Shorten said less than half of people on the NDIS had received their first dose and more than 70 per cent were not fully vaccinated.
“We know there’s a killer virus on the loose. We know that people with disability are particularly at danger from this virus,” he told 5AA radio.
Mr Shorten said the government’s focus had been on group homes.
“But there’s a lot of people with disabilities who live in their own homes who are not particularly mobile,” he said.
“They and their carers should all be at the front of the queue.”