Morning Briefing June 22: New vaccine milestone as children approved for jab

Kiwi children will soon be eligible for a Covid vaccine, the travel bubble with Victoria gets ready to fly again, and the All Blacks name four debutants and a new captain in their latest squad.

A teenager receives a Pfizer vaccine - file photo. Source: Getty

Hundreds of thousands of Kiwi children will soon be eligible for the Pfizer Covid vaccine after Medsafe gave provisional approval for its use in 12- to 15-year-olds.

The Government is expected to give the move the final tick of approval before the end of the month, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying it’s “in all of our interests” for children to be vaccinated.

She says children have been shown to transmit the virus, so vaccinating them helps protect the wider community.

Health leaders are welcoming the move; however, some say vulnerable children should now be bumped up the vaccine queue.  

Ardern has also rejected the notion New Zealand is behind the rest of the world with its overall Covid vaccine rates.

She told TVNZ’s Breakfast the OECD’s ranking (which had New Zealand in last place as of June 15) largely measures first doses.

She says while other countries are pausing second doses in the face of outbreaks, New Zealand is “fully vaccinating as we go”. 

Meanwhile, the Medical Council is warning doctors that spreading misinformation about the vaccination rollout and Covid-19 itself could cost them their jobs.

Medical Council chair Dr Curtis Walker says a small number of doctors are peddling conspiracies.

He says doctors’ opinions about health carry extra weight in the community, so those found spreading misinformation could lose the right to practice medicine. 

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Victoria bubble set for restart

The pause on quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Victoria is due to lift at 11.59pm.

Passengers will no longer need a pre-departure Covid test after today, but all travellers are still encouraged to monitor for symptoms and get tested if any develop. 

Meanwhile, health officials in New South Wales are concerned about low testing numbers there as the latest Sydney Covid cluster grows to 11 cases.

Restrictions in the city are likely to be extended given some people have contracted the virus after very brief contact with positive cases. Authorities are urging anyone with even slight symptoms to get tested. 

All Blacks name four debutants

Four fresh faces have been named in the All Blacks squad for the upcoming tests against Fiji and Tonga.

Finlay Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Quinn Tupaea and Ethan de Groot have all had the call-up to join the 36-man squad.

The team will also have a new captain for the July tests, with Sam Whitelock leading the team in injured Sam Cane’s absence.

Meanwhile, debate continues over Sunday’s investigation into the risk of head injuries in contact sports like rugby.

A US neuroscientist says contact sports for children under 14 should be banned, however one of New Zealand’s leading sports doctors has dismissed that idea. John Mayhew says it’s actually older teenagers who need to be more aware of the risk of head injuries.

Auckland University neurology researcher Helen Murray also believes a greater understanding of repetitive brain injuries is needed before a proper link between rugby and the brain disease CTE is clear.

East Coast clean-up continues 

Civil Defence crews have been on the ground in flood-affected parts of the East Coast, assessing the damage caused by the weekend’s heavy rain.

MetService estimates around 100mm of rain fell in some parts of northern Gisborne over the course of 12 hours.

East Coast MP Kiri Allan visited some of the smaller communities affected by flood damage yesterday, just three weeks after finishing her cancer treatment.

She offered her support to whānau displaced by the flooding and praised people for coming together to help each other out.

Flyers furious over new fees

Air New Zealand’s unaccompanied minor service has been a gift for many families scattered around the country, but one of those families is upset to find the service now has added strings – and costs – attached.

While the charge for unaccompanied minors has increased, new rules also stipulate children must book a fare that includes a checked-in bag.

Fair Go has investigated the airline’s reasons for doing so here

Other news of note this morning: 

- Fiji has reported 126 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, with another death from the virus also recorded. 

- Barnaby Joyce is Australia's Deputy Prime Minister once again after defeating Michael McCormack in a Nationals leadership spill.

- Poor management of the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak inflicted significant and lasting trauma on affected farmers, according to a new study

- New analysis shows ACC is biased against women, Māori and Pasifika.

- Protesters have picketed outside Rocket Lab's Auckland headquarters, calling for an end to its military-related satellite launches. 

- Laurel Hubbard has been named in the New Zealand Olympic weightlifting team – but questions are again being raised about the fairness of her entry in the competition.

- Re: takes a closer look at New Zealand’s “secret” glaciers found in the North Island. 

- And Lorde has announced her return to New Zealand stages as part of her new Solar Power tour.  

And finally...

Rhys Mathewson trying. Source: 1 NEWS

What does it take to become a pro wrestler? A lot of hard work, flexibility and some mean moves, as it turns out.

Seven Sharp’s Rhys Mathewson convinced his boss he had all those skills, so he went along to an open try-out at one of the country’s biggest pro wrestling venues this week

. Amongst other things, he received a sore back, sore chest, and a wrestling name sure to strike fear in any opponent’s heart. You can check out his pro wrestling journey here.