All Australians will be offered Covid-19 booster shots – as nation hits 70% double dose
All Australians over the age of 12 are likely to be offered Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, pending approval by top scientists next week.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said elderly care residents will receive their third dose in the second week of November.
After that, the general population will likely receive a third dose “six months or more” after their second dose, said Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.
It comes as Australia reaches the ‘key milestone’ of a 70 percent double vaccination rate in more than 16 years.
All Australians over 12 will likely be offered Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, pending approval from top scientists next week
Professor Kelly said he would wait for further scientific advice before deciding on the time frame between the second and third dose.
“All booster programs around the world have chosen a time after the second dose of the vaccine, which has been different in some countries, so we’ll see what the advice is from ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation).”
Professor Kelly said priority groups in phases 1a and 1b of the vaccine rollout “would be first in line as they are now six or more months after the second dose.”
He said Israel’s booster shot program, which began in July, has shown third doses to be safe and effective in all age groups.
Hunt said he would not speculate on whether Australians will have to prove they have had their boosters to travel internationally.
‘I will follow medical advice about this and will not speculate about passports. I think that’s a very medical issue with the signs flowing in the coming months,” he said.
On October 8, Australian vaccine scientists recommended Covid vaccine booster shots for 500,000 severely immunocompromised Australians over the age of 12.
They receive a third injection between two and six months after their second dose.
The boosters are either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, even if their first injections were AstraZeneca.
Some scientists predict that people will need a Covid vaccine once a year as the virus continues to mutate – but Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said he hoped three doses would provide lifelong immunity.
‘A third dose is probably the last dose you should do’ [in your life]he said earlier this month.
ATAGI said it does not recommend follow-up doses after the third dose at this time.
Many patients who do not respond to third doses may not respond to further doses, it said.
The group said a break of two to six months after the second dose was preferable, but could be reduced to four weeks in exceptional circumstances, such as expected intensification of immunosuppression and Covid-19 outbreaks.
“People who have had a second dose more than six months ago should get a third dose whenever possible,” it said.
“For this third dose, an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) is preferable to Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca).”
Australians who have had two doses of Pfizer will get Pfizer for their booster. Those who had two doses of Moderna will receive a third injection of Moderna.
Those who have had two doses of AstraZeneca can receive Pfizer or Moderna as a booster.
Israel was the first country to start rolling out booster shots on July 30. The US, UK and EU countries followed suit.
Pictured: Dr. Jamal Rifi administers Pfizer vaccine at Belmore Sports Ground vaccination center in Sydney’s west