New ATAGI advice for adults: who should get another COVID-19 vaccine booster?

Australian adults are being urged to get another COVID-19 booster.

New advice from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) says all adults should consider an additional booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine, if they have not had a vaccine booster or infection in the last six months.

Health Minister Mark Butler announced today all adults can now get their next dose of COVID vaccine to “top up” protection from February 20.

ATAGI’s recommendation for an additional COVID-19 booster is particularly clear for Australians 65 years and older and younger adults vulnerable to severe disease, Butler says.

“For those Australians, the very strong recommendation from ATAGI is that it’s now time for your next dose of COVID vaccine, provided you haven’t had a dose in the last six months, or been infected with COVID,” he says.

For many in this group, the recommendation will mean a fifth dose of the vaccine.

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ATAGI is not recommending additional vaccine doses for healthy children or adolescents under the age of 18, given the low incidence of severe illness and high level of hybrid immunity in this cohort.

“Healthy teenagers and children do not need an additional dose,” Butler says.

The exception is children aged 5 – 17 years old with health conditions placing them at risk of severe illness.

You can read ATAGI’s advice here.

The new advice makes an estimated 14 million Australians eligible for their next dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and Butler says there will be enough Omicron-specific vaccine doses to supply this latest round.

“I want to assure Australians and the hard-working vaccine providers, general practices community pharmacies, community health centres, that Australia has more than enough vaccine doses.”

He says there are 4 million Omicron-specific booster doses available from today. An additional 10 million vaccines are expected to land in Australia and be available from early March. According to the Health Minister, this will be the largest delivery of COVID-19 vaccines since late 2021.

COVID-19 vaccines will remain free, Butler says.

Butler says take up of the fourth dose has been very high in the over 65 age group.

An estimated 3-4 million Australians became infected with COVID-19 in the latest wave since October 2022 (based on official reporting of around 1 million cases). Around 2600 lost their lives, he says.

Also at the press conference, Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, says UK modelling shows for anyone over the age of 70, 800 people need to be vaccinated to stop one hospitalisation.

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