COVID-19: Winter booster dose recommended for vulnerable groups

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Highlights

  • ATAGI has recommended an additional booster dose of COVID-19 for certain population groups in Australia
  • The additional booster dose will be the fifth dose for severely immunocompromised people
  • Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) are the recommended vaccines for the additional booster dose.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended an additional booster dose of COVID-19 for specific population groups in Australia. The added booster dose is supposed to enhance vaccine protection ahead of winter for people, who are at higher risk from COVID-19 and have completed their primary vaccination and first booster dose.

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Following are the groups recommended for booster dose by ATAGI:

  • Severely immunocompromised people in the age group of 16 years and older (This will be the 5th dose as this group is recommended to receive three primary doses)
  • Adults aged 65 years and above
  • Residents of aged care or disabled care facilities
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.

ATAGI has made no recommendations for other groups (not listed above) as there is insufficient evidence about the benefits of an additional booster dose.

The additional booster dose is advised four months after the previous booster dose or after the most recent SARS-CoV-2 infection, if it occurred after the last booster dose.

According to ATAGI's recommendations, the rollout of additional booster doses is expected to begin in April 2022, coinciding with the rollout of the 2022 influenza vaccination programme.

The additional COVID-19 booster dose can be given in conjunction with the influenza vaccine. If an individual is not yet eligible for their additional booster dose, the influenza vaccine should be administered first.

Image source: © 2022 Kalkine Media®; Info source: Health Dept, AU Govt

The primary goal of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination programme is to prevent severe illness and protect the most vulnerable groups. This will lessen the strain on the healthcare system in the coming months.

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