Annastacia Palaszczuk has demanded an apology from Greg Hunt claiming she was ‘relentlessly attacked’ for wanting younger kids vaccinated.
The Queensland premier three weeks ago made a speech in parliament claiming ‘every child under 12 is vulnerable’ if she opened the border.
She was widely condemned for unnecessarily scaring parents, and claiming thousands of locals would die from Covid if there was an outbreak.
However, this week federal Health Minister Mr Hunt asked Pfizer to submit an application to the Therapeutic Goods Administration to have its Covid vaccine approved for children aged 5 to 12.
Ms Palaszczuk claimed at a press conference in Toowoomba on Wednesday that this development vindicated her call for children to be urgently vaccinated.
Caitlyn Connors (left) age 12 is seen receiving her first Covid-19 vaccination at the new mass Boondall Vaccination Centre at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre
‘A few weeks ago I raised the issue of this being the pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ she said.
‘I raised very clearly that there was an issue and we needed a plan for young children between the ages of five and 11 who weren’t vaccinated.
‘I was loudly criticised from all sections of the media, I was attacked relentlessly by the federal government
‘And today and yesterday we hear that Greg Hunt is now speaking with the TGA to run analysis of the trials of 5 to 11s which Pfizer has been conducting,
‘I would like an apology from Greg Hunt.’
Ms Palaszczuk claimed her controversial comments were just an attempt to protect Queenslanders when the virus eventually entered the state.
‘I think it’s very disappointing that all I’m trying to do is protect this state, to protect our children, and to be attacked relentlessly,’ she said.
‘Queenslanders should feel vindicated that the federal government has looked to the international research and is now doing something about it.’
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt had criticised Ms Palaszczuk for raising the issue of childhood vaccination in state parliament late in August, noting that ‘no countries were vaccinating children’
Pfizer is believed to be seeking regulatory approvals in the US and Europe for a vaccine dose to be used on children aged five to 11 after promising clinical trial results.
The company said its vaccine produced a strong immune response similar to that seen in trials with 16-to 29-year-olds.
Ms Palaszczuk told parliament on September 1 that children were at risk because they could not yet be vaccinated, justifying keeping her border closed beyond 80 per cent vaccinated
‘You open up this state and you let the virus in here, every child under 12 is vulnerable, every single child,’ he said.
‘Anyone who has a child under 12 is vulnerable because they are the unvaccinated.’
Children are far less afflicted by coronavirus, being less likely to catch it, pass it on, or suffer serious illness – though they are more susceptible to the Delta strain.
Mr Hunt at the time responded that the national plan aimed to protecting all Australians from the virus, including children.
He said the suggestion that kids hadn’t been considered in the plan was ‘false’, and no vaccinations had been approved for children under the age of 12 anywhere in the world and no countries were vaccinating children.
‘In fact, I think the best response in a way is what has been written by Queensland Health in their ”Covid-19 and Kids: What you need to Know” document dated 5 August 2021: serious illness remains extremely rare in children,’ he told reporters.
‘I also quote: ”Even children with serious underlying conditions will mostly only experience a mild illness with Covid-19”.’
But in announcing that the TGA would now consider the new Pfizer vaccine, Mr Hunt had somewhat changed his tune.
‘Should the TGA find that the vaccine is safe and effective for children under 12 years of age, the Australian government is well placed to deliver this vaccine to this expanded age cohort,’ he said.
On Tuesday, Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid told a Senate inquiry that a school-based vaccine program may be ready in Australia by next year, subject to regulatory approval.
‘It will take that long for various approvals to come through and we need to have vaccine supply,’ he said.