ATAGI updates vaccine recommendation for Covid XBB variant

Home Health ATAGI updates vaccine recommendation for Covid XBB variant
ATAGI updates vaccine recommendation for Covid XBB variant

Australians will not be asked to roll up their sleeves for a fifth Covid-19 vaccine just yet, Health Minister Mark Butler says.

On the backdrop of a spike in cases across the country, Mr Butler said ATAGI had considered international evidence, as well as local data, and “decided not to recommend” a third booster at this point in time.

That advice comes as Australians aged over 18 are able to access a Pfizer bivalent vaccine for their third and fourth dose, which targets the Omicron sub-variants.

It follows the rollout of Moderna’s bivalent Omicron vaccine, which became available last month.

As case numbers rise across the country, Mr Butler said the current health advice is not to implement mask mandates or to ask people to work from home.

“If you are unwell, stay home and do not mix with others … If you have symptoms, stay home,” he said.

“If you are over the age of 70, or are over the age of 50 with two risk factors, make sure you have a plan with your doctor to get antivirals very quickly in the event you contract Covid.”

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly said there was “plenty of supply” of antivirals as the wave approaches its peak.

“I fully expect that we are nearing the middle of this wave,” he said.

“If it ends up being similar to Singapore, and I believe it will, then it should peak soon and drop quickly.”

Mr Butler said ATAGI is likely to implement new booster recommendations in early 2023 in preparation for winter.

“ATAGI reiterated that they are continuing to actively review the role of booster doses,” Mr Butler said.

“They noted in that, in their view, any reduction in transmission in this current what appears to be a building wave, any reduction in transmission by adding a fifth dose to the system would, in their words, likely be minimal.”

Mr Butler said there are 5.5 million Australians still eligible for their third dose who have not yet had it.

“In some instances, they are many months overdue for their third dose,” he said.

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