ATAGI says booster shots could soon be rolled out for children aged 12-15 years as Australia ramps up its winter prep in the face of an oncoming Covid-19 and influenza season.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is due to meet this week to discuss potential next steps for the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program. It comes as case numbers across the country begin to rise again amid the spread of the more infectious Omicron substrain BA.2.
The ATAGI will reportedly discuss lowering the age for boosters now that 85% of 12-15 year olds have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 79% are double-jabbed.
ATAGI meets regularly and boosters for children aged 12-15 years are under “continuous review”, a government spokesman told news sources.
General practitioner Tony Bartone told the Nine Network on Wednesday that it was “vitally important” for everyone eligible for their booster to go and get that shot. He also reminds younger members of the community to get their booster shot as well.
“We’re largely, as a population, booster. We’re over the 60% mark, but we’re well short of what we would have liked in terms of the levels we saw in the primary vaccination. Yet a number of our children are still unvaccinated as well.”
ATAGI will also discuss a potential fourth dose for older and immunocompromised people.
Health Minister Greg Hunt last week flagged making booster shots an annual program for people older than 65, with an announcement within weeks.
“It’s more likely than not that there will be a (second) booster recommended for those above a certain age; 65 is the most likely age, and that’s the current thinking,” Mr Hunt said.
“We’re expecting that advice from ATAGI within the next three weeks as they have been doing deep research on immunity, on waning and on the situation around the world. They are potentially going to recommend a senior booster, which would then be potentially the start of an annual program for people 65 and above.”
In the lead-up to winter, which is expected to result in the first significant influenza season since 2019 as well as an expected surge of Covid-19 cases, the government’s winter preparedness plan will target the most high-risk cohorts. Part of the $2.1b plan will mean maximising Covid-19 and influenza vaccination coverage.
Original content from News Australia. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.
Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.