Melbourne, Dec 12 (MNN) The Australian government said on Sunday that Moderna vaccine boosters will be available to everybody aged 18 and above in the country forthwith.
It also said that the time period for booster shots has been brought forward from six to five months in the light of international evidence on efficacy and impact of the Omicron variant.
The move comes as the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation backed Therapeutic Goods Administration decision in this regard, Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt told the media here.
He pointed out that now both Pfizer and Moderna are available to people as a booster. AstraZeneca vaccine is also available in the country for jabs.
The Minister said that 40.1 million vaccinations had been done in Australia till date, including 93.3 per cent first dose and 89.2 per cent second dose vaccinations.
As many as 6,83,000 people have got booster shots in Australia, ahead of schedule. An additional 1.5 million people are now eligible for access to boosters after the nod to Moderna.
By the end of December and start of January, 4.1 million Australians will become eligible for booster.
Federal Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy emphasised that boosters are very important to give that extra immunity, particularly as the Omicron variant is “likely to spread around the world”.
“We have two preferred boosters by ATAGI — Pfizer and Moderna. AstraZeneca, at the moment, is not registered as a booster, but is available to people who can’t have the mRNA vaccine.”
Hunt said that Australia will very shortly launch a booster campaign to make public aware in the lead-up to Christmas and later.
To a question, the Health Secretary said that the side effects for boosters, two mRNA vaccines, are very similar to those seen in primary course, mainly sore arms occasionally and sometimes a bit of a fever.
“But generally speaking, evidence suggests that side effects following a booster are actually less than those following the second dose. So, people will expect relatively mild side effects we have seen with other mRNA vaccines.”