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© ABC News: Freya Michie
Vaccinations are expected to be available to young children in January 2022.
Australian children aged between five and 11 are unlikely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before January, Health Minister Greg Hunt says.

United States regulators recently cleared Pfizer's vaccine for use among younger children, authorising a 10-microgram dose for children in the age group, one-third of the dose given to those aged 12 and older.

However, Australia's national medical regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), is still reviewing the health and safety data for younger kids.

Once it gives the shot the green light, the nation's expert immunisation advisory body, The Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI), will need to make its own assessment before the shots are rolled out to the younger cohort.

Appearing on Insiders, Mr Hunt said he believed that would occur early next year.

"The expectation that they have set is the first part of January, hopefully early January," he said.

"But it is in the hands of the medical experts. They operate independently. But they're going as quickly as possible."

Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine showed 90.7 per cent efficacy against coronavirus in a clinical trial of children aged five to 11.

But Mr Hunt noted the trial had far fewer participants than in the adult COVID-19 vaccine trials, as it was initially limited to 2,268 children in that age group.

He said ATAGI was watching the US closely. "They want to review the real-world data coming out of the United States," he said.

"It was a very small clinical trial by vaccine clinical trial standards. Only a few thousand children. They will see very significant numbers of children in the general population vaccinated in the United States."

The Health Minister insisted that once regulators approved the vaccine for younger children, the government was ready to expand its rollout.

"We're in the fortunate position that we have the doses that we require," he said.

Need for annual booster shots unclear

Australia's COVID-19 vaccine booster program is well underway, with anyone aged over 18 who received their second dose of an approved vaccine more than six months ago now eligible for a top-up.

On Insiders, Mr Hunt was asked whether the government would introduce a "three-dose vaccine program," requiring Australians to have a booster shot in order access certain freedoms, like air travel or working in essential services.

The Health Minister said that was not the current plan.

"The advice at this stage ... is that you're regarded as fully vaccinated with two doses," he said.

"Everything is always under review but there's no plan to change that requirement at this stage. But as we've done throughout, we'll continue to follow the medical advice."

Speaking later at a press conference, Mr Hunt said it was unclear whether Australians would ultimately need more than one booster or even regular top-ups.

Mr Hunt said experts he had spoken to believed it was likely immunocompromised Australians might need more than one booster shot, but the general population might not.

"The world is learning as to whether or not there will be more doses required beyond the third shot or the booster," he said.

"At this stage there's no advice that is required but we've acquired the supplies if that is the case."

Missing duty-free shopping? You're in luck

Mr Hunt also revealed that, in another step in Australia's COVID exit strategy, travellers were now able to stock-up on duty-free shopping at Australia's international airports for the first time since the border was closed in March last year.

The federal government has lifted the COVID-related ban on retail outlets operating at international airports, two weeks after the border reopened.

Mr Hunt said Australia's rising vaccination rates had made the change possible.

"Duty free is back on! And it's another step towards the reopening of the country," he said.

Almost 82 per cent of Australians over 16 are now fully inoculated.