Fact check: No, Australian High Court hasn’t banned COVID-19 vaccines for children – USA TODAY

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The claim: Australian court banned Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children

A Dec. 28 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) claims the Australian High Court recently made a significant ruling related to COVID-19 vaccines. 

“We won the high court case against ATAGI and TGA Today and Moderna and Pfizer will no longer be available to children 0-6 and up!” reads the post. “The government have (sic) started to remove – RECALL –  all covid vaccines from the Australian market as they are not safe or effective in the prevention of Covid-19.”

The post garnered 90 shares in three weeks. Similar versions of the claim have been shared on Facebook

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Our rating: False

The COVID-19 vaccines are still available for children in Australia, the Department of Health confirms. The High Court is still reviewing the case in question and has not made a ruling. The Federal Court of Australia previously dismissed a case filed by the same group seeking to repeal approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old. 

The High Court has not made a ruling yet

Ben Wickham, a spokesperson for the High Court, told USA TODAY in an email that the online claims were likely referring to the case, “Parry v Secretary, Department of Health.

This case was submitted by an anti-vaccine group called the Australian Vaccination-risks Network against Brendan Murphy, secretary of Australia’s Department of Health, according to a press release published by the group.

The group is challenging Murphy’s approval of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years, according to the press release.

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Wickham told USA TODAY the case is still in its early stages of review, and the High Court has not yet made a decision. The court may hear the case or dismiss it without a hearing.

Jason Donohoe, a Department of Health spokesperson, also told USA TODAY in an email that the High Court has not yet decided on the case.

In March of last year, the same group submitted a similar case to the Federal Court of Australia in which they sought to repeal the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old. That case was dismissed.

COVID-19 vaccines are still available for children in Australia

Donohoe told USA TODAY the Australian government still recommends getting the Moderna vaccine, though it is now being replaced by the new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.

“Children aged 6 months to under 5 years who have an increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 will still be able to access the Moderna Spikevax pediatric COVID-19 vaccine as part of a primary schedule until May 2023,” Donohoe said. “The Pfizer vaccines remain available for people under 18 years of age – for primary courses and boosters.”

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The Australian Department of Health website confirms the availability of  COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 6 in specific cases.

“COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for children aged 6 months to under 5 years with severe immunocompromise, disability and those who have complex and/or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19,” the website says. 

There is no mention of any recall for any of the COVID-19 vaccines on the website.

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment.

AFP has debunked this claim as well.

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