New COVID booster shot available

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has announced new COVID-19 boosters will be available for adults next week as from February 20.

17 February 2023


THE biggest one-month arrival of vaccines since late 2021 is on its way to Australia, as a fifth COVID-19 booster becomes available.


“We’re getting the most up-to-date version of the vaccine for Australians,” Health Minister Mark Butler has said.


You are eligible to get the booster if you are over 18, haven’t had COVID-19 in the last six months, and haven’t had a booster shot in the last six months, or before August 20, 2022.


The booster is not available to children under 18, unless the child aged 5-17 is at risk of severe illness.


Adults eligible or at risk of severe illness should consider getting the booster can get an extra booster shot from February 20. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is recommending the booster, in particular, for people who are at risk of severe illness.


“It’s especially important for the vulnerable,” says Robert Booy, Honorary Professor at Sydney Infectious Diseases Institute at the University of Sydney, adding that could be someone who is disabled, has multiple medical problems, is immunosuppressed, is 65 or older and Indigenous Australians.


Children aged between five and 17 with a health condition that puts them at risk of severe illness are also eligible.


Yet can the new booster help protect us against long COVID?


The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, report noted that although the long-term protection provided by bivalent vaccines has yet to be assessed, there is an observation of “waning protection against infection three months after” the booster.


Honorary Professor Robert Booy said, “[The data] is still coming in because it has only been used for a few months, but the evidence we have is that the immunised get less long COVID.”


Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, Catherine Bennett said, “I do think for people who are more than six months out [from a COVID infection or a COVID vaccine] if you have an interest, you may as well have it now. The worst thing is waiting for winter and you get the infection [before the season hits].”


The new Omicron-specific booster is free and available at pharmacies, GPs, and community health centres.


Visit the COVID Vaccine Clinic Finder for a list of all COVID-19 vaccine providers in Australia.

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