Explainer: When might children be included in the vaccine roll-out?

With COVID-19 figures showing children and teenagers are increasingly bearing the brunt of Australia's third wave, questions are being raised about how soon kids might be included in the country's vaccination rollout.

According to NSW Health statistics, there have been more than double the amount of COVID-19 cases in patients aged zero to 19 years old than the next highest age bracket over the past seven weeks.

Speaking at today's press conference, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said a key feature of the Delta strain of COVID-19 was its ability to spread among children.

READ MORE: Playground transmission investigated as children COVID-19 cases spike

Orlando McCauley has Covid-19 test at the Dubbo West walk-in clinic.

"We're also seeing outbreaks in childcare centres and that's a feature we haven't seen in previous outbreaks," Dr Chant said.

"Because the Delta strain seems to be able to transmit more in the childhood setting."

The trend has also been apparent in Victoria where of the 246 active cases of COVID-19, 56 infections are in children under nine years old.

There are also 55 cases in the 10 and 19 age bracket.

Victoria's COVID-19 Response Commander Jeroen Weimar said a number of the children were grade 2, 3 and 4 students.

READ MORE: NSW following similar path to Melbourne last year

All child care centres will be able to waive gap fees if they are in a COVID-19 hotspot for more than seven days.

The worry and strain parents are facing about Delta was brought into sharp focus today as Australian Capital Territory Senator Katy Gallagher shared the news her 14-year-old daughter Evie had tested positive to the virus.

The federal Labor senator took to social media to say Evie was "feeling pretty unwell and understandably worried about what this means for her and for the rest of her family".

"Here I sit tonight, where after doing everything right for 18 months, like millions of other families right around Australia – I am left with my children completely vulnerable to COVID-19," she added.

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Why are more children getting infected with Delta?

While the trend has been made clear both in Australia and overseas that more children are getting infected with COVID-19, it is yet to be proven why this is the case.

One logical reason more children and teenagers are getting infected is because they have by far the lowest rates of vaccination.

NSW Health figures show 25 percent of 15-29-year-olds have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 78 percent of 70-79-year-olds.

But the question is, has the Delta strain been targeting children in particular?

The World Health Organisation doesn't believe there is enough evidence to suggest this.

A girl rides past a cherry tree in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 16, 2021. Australia's state of New South Wales NSW recorded a new record high of 478 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and eight deaths on Monday. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty Images)

"Let me be very clear: we are not seeing the Delta variant specifically target children," WHO's COVID-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said at a press conference a few weeks ago.

"There was some suggestion that the variants were specifically targeting children, but that actually is not the case. What we are seeing is that the variants will target those who are socially mixing," Van Kerkhove said.

"What we do see is that the variants that are circulating will infect people if they are not taking the proper precautions," she said, referring to measures such as physical distancing and avoiding gathering in poorly-ventilated, crowded indoor spaces.

Can children get vaccinated in Australia?

No children under 12 are able to get vaccinated in Australia yet.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has just recently approved the Pfizer vaccine for vulnerable children aged 12 to 15, including those with underlying health conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Registered nurse Terissa Angel gives Ty Boney and his father Curtis Boney a COVID-19 vaccine.

The group has flagged it will look at expanding eligibility to all 12 to 15-year-olds within the next two months.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in everyone aged 16 and over.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked about the issue of vaccines for children in a press conference today.

Mr Morrison said expanding access to the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds was something that was being worked through.

"This is a matter that we have dealt with regularly both at national cabinet in terms of the state-based systems for potential school-based vaccination programs and the work is already underway on how that could be done," Mr Morrison said.

"It's not too far away, is my understanding, but equally we're talking about the vaccination of our kids and I want to be very sure about the medical advice we're getting about that."

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