Australians will be offered COVID vaccine booster

Australians will be offered COVID vaccine booster shots six months after receiving their second dose, after a final tick of approval from the experts.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations (ATAGI) had already recommended that severely immunocompromised people receive a third dose of a vaccine, but had held off making a decision for the rest of the population, however residents in aged and disability care can start receiving the booster shot immediately.

ABC News reported Health Minister Greg Hunt saying ATAGI had now recommended boosters be rolled out to adults with the program officially starting on Monday, November 8.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said it had approved Pfizer booster shots for people aged 18 and over, but said it was down to ATAGI to advise on who would be eligible.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said while boosters were encouraged for the elderly or others who may be considered vulnerable, such as those within the disability sector, the government considered people fully vaccinated as long as they had had their first two doses of the vaccine.

“This is a boost, two doses … will be seen as fully vaccinated for overseas travellers and so on,” he said.

“It definitely gives extra protection against severe disease, particularly for older Australians and those in that vulnerable group.”

Professor Kelly said people in phase 1a and 1b of the original vaccine rollout would be the first to get to the six-month mark since their second dose, and urged them to come forward.

He also confirmed the government would not be setting targets for how many people they wanted to get boosters, or that it would be tied with restrictions easing.

Under changes to the international border closure, people who were fully vaccinated would no longer need to ask for permission to leave the country as of November 1, while those who are unvaccinated still have to apply for an exemption to travel.

Mr. Hunt also reiterated that Pfizer would also now be available at pharmacies after previously only being available at GPs and state-run clinics.

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