The aged care sector is on track to receive booster shots within weeks, as Australia’s vaccination rate for over-16s ticks past 70%.
On Wednesday, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said severely immunocompromised people have already begun receiving a third vaccine dose after it was recommended by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
Once the Therapeutic Good Association (TGA) and ATAGI give the go-ahead, Minister Hunt said the government wants to commence rolling out third doses to aged care by the second week of November.
Booster jabs will be available six months after second shots were administered.
Aged care staff and residents will have access to the booster jabs, which will consist of an extra dose of Pfizer.
Pfizer is the only vaccine manufacturer to have submitted data for booster vaccination approval. Moderna and AstraZeneca have not yet submitted booster applications to the regulator.
Aged care residents were among the first Australians to get vaccinated back in March. It is now at least six months since they received their second doses.
“Because we have sufficient vaccine, we have a system capable of delivering… every state and territory has spare capacity at this point in time,” he said.
There are reportedly more than 7 million doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines sitting in government clinics, GPs, pharmacies and storage facilities around Australia.
The study looked at the medical data of 4,621,836 Israelis, and compared rates of infection, severe disease and death in those who have had a booster shot and those who have had only two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Infection rates were up to 10 times lower in the booster group compared with the non-booster groups. Severe illness in the 40–60 and over-60 age groups was also dramatically lower.
However, a recent article in The Lancet suggested there is not enough evidence to support widespread booster use in the UK.
Australia’s vaccination rate for over-16s has risen beyond 70%, meaning Australia can move into phase B of the government’s COVID-19 recovery plan.