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New COVID-19 vaccines for Australians aged 18 years and older

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The Australian Government has accepted a recommendation from the ATAGI on the use of the Pfizer Comirnaty Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 vaccine as a third and fourth dose in people aged 18 years and older.

Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has found this next-generation vaccine triggers a modest improvement in the immune response against both strains. This vaccine and the original vaccines still provide significant protection from severe disease against Omicron subvariant infections.

The first doses of the bivalent vaccine have arrived in the country and are undergoing batch testing by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The rollout of this vaccine will commence on 12 December 2022.

This is the second bivalent vaccine approved for use in Australia. The Moderna Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 vaccine has been available for people aged 18 years or older since 14 October 2022.

A separate recommendation from ATAGI to make the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine available for certain at-risk children aged 6 months to under 5 years has also been accepted. This vaccine will become available for eligible children from mid-January 2023.

The Pfizer vaccine is restricted to children who are severely immunocompromised or have other specific conditions that increase their risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said, “The Australian Government has added this next-generation Pfizer vaccine to our armour against COVID-19.

“This is a reminder to all Australian to make sure you are up to date with your COVID vaccinations, now is the time to get your booster,” Butler said.

As of 10 November 2022, a total of 64,040,557 vaccines have been administered with more than a 74,000 weekly increase. More than 20,000,000 have received their first dose, 19,000,000+ received their second dose, 14,000,000 received their third dose and more than 5,000,000 have already got their fourth dose.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the highest priority in the response of the government has been to protect the Australian population’s healthcare and keep people safe. Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated as the rollout still continues to administer shots among eligible Australians.

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