Australia to shorten time between booster, initial vaccine doses amid omicron surge

Australia’s health minister said on Saturday the timeline between initial vaccine doses and when a booster shot could be administered would be shortened following an updated recommendation from an immunization advisory group.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has “updated its advice and now recommends Australians receive their booster shot five or more months after the second dose,” the country’s health minister, Greg Hunt, tweeted on Saturday.

Australians aged 18 years and older had previously been advised to receive their booster shots six months after their initial vaccine doses. 

“Booster shots make sure that the protection from the primary course is even stronger and longer lasting and helps prevent spread of the virus,” Hunt said on Twitter, noting that over 670,000 people in the country had already gotten their boosters.

According to Hunt, more than 93 percent of Australians aged 16 years or older are at least partially vaccinated, while 89 percent have received a second dose. 

Hunt also said that the Moderna vaccine had been added as an eligible vaccine for Australians at least 18 years old to use for their booster after receiving approval from the Australian immunization advisory group. Moderna and Pfizer are considered the “preferred vaccines” for boosters.

Reuters noted that the announcement comes as omicron cases trend upward in the country.

Preliminary studies from Pfizer and BioNTech and a study from Israel about the COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness against the variant may provide more motivation for getting the booster shot.

Pfizer and BioNTech reported earlier this week that preliminary studies indicated that the strain is neutralized after a three-dose series of their vaccine.

Researchers in Israel supported that finding, reporting on Saturday that a study of 40 people indicated neutralization against the omicron variant increased one hundred-fold for those who had received their booster a month prior when compared with those who had completed their initial two-dose vaccine regimen five to six months prior.

Tags Australia Booster shots COVID-19 Moderna omicron Pfizer Vaccines Variant

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