Australians advised not to take third Covid booster

Fifth vaccine dose does little to stop virus, says advisory group

Australian experts say taking a fifth Covid-19 vaccine dose appears to have minimal impact on virus transmission. Reuters
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Australian health authorities have advised against taking a fifth Covid-19 vaccine, while urging eligible people to take their remaining booster doses, as the country's latest coronavirus wave grows rapidly.

Average daily cases were 47 per cent higher last week than the week before, said Health Minister Mark Butler as he announced new vaccination recommendations. But cases remain 85 per cent below the previous peak, of late July.

Mr Butler said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations had recommended against a fifth dose, or third booster, after evidence from Singapore's recent wave showed that severe illness and death were rare among the vaccinated and that a fifth shot had minimal impact on virus transmission.

“ATAGI has considered international evidence as well as the local data around vaccination numbers, as well as case numbers in the pandemic and decided not to recommend a fifth dose,” said Mr Butler.

“They noted that severe disease and death during that wave in Singapore was very rare for people who had had at least two doses of vaccine for Covid.”

New booster recommendations will be made early next year before the Southern Hemisphere winter.

Mr Butler urged those yet to have the recommended number of doses to do so, with 5.5 million Australians, about a fifth of the population, yet to receive a third dose despite being eligible.

He also accepted ATAGI recommendations that Pfizer's Omicron-specific vaccine be approved as a booster dose for adults. About 4.7 million doses will arrive before a campaign due to begin on December 12.

The company's vaccine for children up to the age of 5 will also be approved for use on the severely immunocompromised.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the Singaporean experience suggested the current wave would peak soon and that cases would then drop quickly.

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Updated: November 15, 2022, 7:51 AM
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