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