Booster shots are brought forward to FOUR months after second dose, and then to THREE months by the end of January
- From January 4, gap from second to dose to booster slashed to four months
- The gap will be shortened further to three months on January 31
- The move will make 16 million Australians eligible for a booster in weeks
The Covid-19 booster shot interval will be brought forward from five to four months from January 4 as cases of the Omicron variant continue to explode across the country and states bring back restrictions.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the move was made on the basis of ATAGI advice in a press conference on Friday with Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.
The gap for a booster will shorten further to three months from January 31, Mr Hunt announced.
‘On the basis of advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, it’s no surprise we will be bringing forward the eligibility for the booster dose to four months as of 4 January,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘That means that the cohort has expanded. It will be expanded again on the 31st of January to three months and that will take it out to 16 million Australians who will be eligible at that point in time.
‘As we have said all along, eligibility is the beginning of access, it doesn’t mean that somebody is overdue the very day they become eligible.’
The Covid-19 booster shot interval will be brought forward from five to four months from January 4 as cases of the Omicron variant continue to explode, Health Minster Greg Hunt announced on Friday
Professor Kelly said receiving one of the first two doses of a Covid vaccine was still the most important priority for the vaccination program.
‘We have seen a rise in intensive care patients in New South Wales in recent days, almost all of those have been unvaccinated,’ Prof Kelly said.
He said the reasons for bringing forward the booster dosing was to protect those most at risk of severe disease and because protection from two doses of a Covid vaccine began to wane over time.
‘I will stress, just because you get to three months or five months or six months, it doesn’t mean that you immediately that day lose your protection. That is not the case,’ Prof Kelly said.
‘It does decrease over time. It remains in place for severe infection but it is diminished for Omicron compared with Delta.
‘Again, with the booster, it [protection] goes back towards the same levels as Delta. It will be an important and is already becoming an important part of our control of the current Omicron wave in Australia.’
Professor Paul Kelly said one of the reasons for the change to the booster gap was the Covid vaccines waned over time, particularly against the Omicron variant
Professor Kelly urged vulnerable people – the elderly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those with chronic disease and those who are immunocompromised – to come forward first for booster jabs.
‘And just a real shoutout to anyone who is pregnant or is planning to be pregnant – these vaccines are very safe in pregnancy,’ Prof Kelly said.
‘We know now very clearly that both the woman who is pregnant and their unborn child, they are both at risk from this virus and vaccine does protect and is safe.’