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Booster shot for severely immunocompromised Australians: Minister

Vaccine vial. Stock photo: By Ali Raza/Pixabay

Canberra, Oct 8 (MNN) Australians who are severely immunocompromised will be offered from next week the option to receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to boost their protection against COVID-19 to the highest level, Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Friday.

This follows advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and other leading vaccination and health experts.

Hunt said research showed that some people who are severely immunocompromised may need a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to maximise protection.

“Australians who are severely immunocompromised may have a decreased immune response to a COVID-19 vaccination and be more at risk from severe COVID-19. An additional booster dose for this specific cohort will ensure they continue to be protected,” the Minister said.

It is expected that up to approximately 5n00,000 people are severely immunocompromised in Australia and may need a third dose of vaccine over the coming months.

This includes people who are being actively treated for cancer, organ failure, or being treated with a range of immunosuppressive or biologic therapies.

The recommended interval for the third dose is two to six months after their second dose of vaccine. ATAGI’s advice is that an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) is the preferred option for a third dose.

Importantly, Australians who are mildly to moderately immunocompromised are not currently being recommended by ATAGI to have a third dose at this stage.

While vaccines are our best defence against COVID-19, Australians are reminded to continue implementing other safety measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.

Physical distancing, hand washing, wearing a face mask, and following other public health measures continue to be important for public safety.

The Australian government expects to receive advice from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and ATAGI within the coming weeks about the administration of booster doses for the general population. Advice on booster doses will be made public as soon as possible.

With over 151 million Pfizer, Novavax and Moderna vaccines already secured for supply into the future, Australia is well prepared to provide booster doses if they are recommended by the medical experts.

In October, there are sufficient doses available to offer every Australian a first or second dose vaccination. Around two million vaccinations are now being administered each week in Australia.

To date, nearly 82 per cent of the population over the age of 16 has received one vaccine dose, and more than 60 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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