Expanded eligibility for fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine
July 7, 2022
Type of support:
A further 7.4 million people will now be eligible to receive a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from next week after the Australian Immunization Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) updated its recommendations.
This will help provide additional serious disease protection against the emerging outbreak of infections with Omicron sub-variants and reduce the burden on Australian hospitals and the healthcare system in the months to come.
The Australian government has accepted the recommendations from ATAGI vaccine experts and will open the fourth dose to newly eligible people from Monday July 11.
ATAGI specifically recommended that people between the ages of 50 and 64 receive their fourth dose, while those between the ages of 30 and 49 can choose to receive a fourth injection.
ATAGI reiterated that people who had already been eligible for the fourth dose, including those aged 65 and over, remain at higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
As of July 7, 2022, 60% of people aged 65 and over have received their fourth dose. People who haven’t received it yet are strongly encouraged to get it as soon as possible.
ATAGI also recommended that the interval between vaccine doses, or prior infection (whichever is later), be reduced from four months to three months to provide additional protection sooner.
ATAGI did not support making the fourth dose available to healthy adults under 30, as it was unclear whether the benefits outweighed the risks in this population group.
Almost 14 million people in Australia aged 16 and over have received three or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
People aged 50 and over who have not yet had a fourth vaccine are encouraged to make an appointment as soon as possible to ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations and have the best possible protection. against COVID-19.
ATAGI continues to recommend that people in eligible at-risk population groups, including those who are severely immunocompromised (for these people, it will be a fifth dose) or who have underlying medical conditions, receive their fourth dose .
ATAGI noted that the number of people in Australia sick with respiratory virus infections, including COVID-19, has increased in recent months, putting increased pressure on the Australian health system, in especially hospitals.
An increase in cases of COVID-19 BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants is a contributing factor and is expected to worsen in the coming months.
Increasing consumption of fourth doses in most-at-risk population groups during this period should play a limited, but important, role in reducing individuals’ risk of severe outcomes while alleviating pressure on the immune system. Australian health.
ATAGI expressed concern that the uptake of the first booster dose, and the fourth dose among those who had already been eligible, was not high enough and underlined the importance of vaccination in prevention of serious illness and death during this period, especially in the elderly. adults and people aged 16 and over with a medical condition or disability.
QUOTES FOR AWARD TO MINISTER BUTLER
“We are in the early stages of a third Omicron wave and our government is absolutely committed to ensuring that as many people as possible are protected by the vaccine.
“My message to everyone living in Australia aged 50 and over is to make sure you have the best protection against COVID-19 by getting a fourth dose as soon as possible. If you are between 30 and 49 years old and want extra protection, you can choose to receive a fourth dose.
“Vaccine experts from Australia’s Immunization Technical Advisory Group have recommended this – and the government has accepted that advice.
“My other message is that oral antiviral treatments can save the lives of older people or people with chronic conditions who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
“It is essential that a person starts the five-day oral treatment as soon as possible after the first symptoms appear.
“If you are at higher risk of serious illness, plan ahead. Talk to your doctor now about oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19.