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The Federal Government has cut back the time people need to wait before their Covid-19 booster shot, which means an extra 1.5 million Australians will be eligible for their third jab from Sunday.
Amid global concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised the government to slash the waiting time for booster shots for people over 18 years from six months to five months, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The change comes into effect immediately, meaning at least 1.5 million extra people will be able to get their booster shot from Sunday, and about two million more will be eligible by the end of the year.
ATAGI now recommends Moderna alongside Pfizer as the preferred vaccines for booster shots, regardless of which vaccine people received for their first two jabs.
More than 670,000 Australians have already had their third dose, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
The change means millions more will get theirs sooner than expected.
“Australia is well prepared to provide booster doses as approvals are provided by the medical experts,” Mr Hunt said, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
“Australia is a vaccination nation, with more than 40 million Covid-19 vaccines having been administered to date. Over 93 per cent of eligible Australians aged 16 and older have received a first dose and over 89 per cent have now received a second dose.”
ATAGI’s changed advice comes amid the likely continued transmission of Delta and the new Omicron variant.
Last week ATAGI said there was not enough evidence to support cutting waiting times between jabs, but new information about Omicron and its transmissibility has prompted new advice to slow its spread, the ABC reported.
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said on Saturday night there was an “urgent need” for people to get extra protection from the virus.
“Thanks ATAGI,” he tweeted.
“There is an urgent need for third doses/boosters. Don’t delay if you’re due. I’ll now get mine before Christmas.”
NSW recorded another infections spike on Saturday with 560 new cases, including three Omicron infections, while Victoria recorded 1193 new cases and 13 deaths.
Queensland recorded one new Covid-19 case, with authorities warning they had been infectious in the Gold Coast community for five days.
- by Lauren McMah, news.com.au