All the Latest on COVID-19 Jabs in Australia

All the Latest on COVID-19 Jabs in Australia

It’s been over a year since COVID-19 vaccines began rolling out in Australia, and many of us have now had two if not three, jabs. The pandemic situation is continuing to evolve as we deal with new variants and in the midst of the winter season, which means getting a covid booster shot is more important than ever.

Here’s what we know about the state of affairs with booster shots in Australia right now.

Who can get a booster shot?

Booster doses are available and recommended for every Australian over 16 years of age who has had both doses of their primary COVID-19 vaccine. Under 16s are not presently being recommended for booster shots by ATAGI.

The Department of Health originally recommended the gap between the second dose and booster shot should be at least six months. However, a surge in cases shifted this recommendation to at least 3 months.

To figure out whether you’re due for a booster shot, you can find the date of your second vaccine dose on your COVID-19 digital certificate.

Those who are severely immunocompromised are encouraged to receive a third primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine a minimum of two months after their second dose. They, along with pregnant people, are also recommended to receive a booster dose according to the same rules as the general population, which is currently after 3 months.

What about a winter booster jab?

covid-19 booster vaccine australia
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It’s been a few months since boosters were initially rolled out, meaning it’s becoming time to think about a second booster or fourth jab of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) started recommending that from April 2022, anyone who fits into these categories get a second winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • All adults aged 65 years or older
  • Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older
  • People who are severely immunocompromised (this will be their fifth dose)
  • People aged 16 years or older with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness
  • People aged 16 years or older with a disability, significant or complex health needs, or multiple comorbidities which increase the risk of a poor outcome

In July, ATAGI updated its booster advice in light of the rising wave of infections of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariant. From July 11, anyone in these categories is eligible for a winter booster:

  • Adults aged 50 to 64 years are now recommended to receive a winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Adults aged 30 to 49 years can receive a winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, however, the benefit for people in this age group is less certain.

Eligible people must wait at least 3 months since their last booster to get the winter jab. If you’re in one of these categories and have been infected with COVID-19 since your last booster, you’ll need to wait 3 months after your infection.

The winter COVID-19 booster can also be given at the same time as the 2022 flu vaccine.

At this time, healthy people between the age of 16-29 are not recommended to get a second COVID-19 booster.

Which boosters are available?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved both the Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine and Moderna Spikevax vaccine for use as booster shots in Australia.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has said that both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are considered equally acceptable as booster vaccines. This means you can receive either vaccine as a booster shot regardless of which vaccine you received initially.

As for Vaxzevria (previously AstraZeneca), ATAGI said this brand can be used when an mRNA vaccine is “contraindicated or a person declines vaccination with an mRNA vaccine”.

Novavax can be used if no other COVID-19 vaccine is considered suitable for that person.

How can you book an appointment?

Similar to the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia, booster shots (all COVID vaccines) are available to be booked online and can be given by your local GP, pharmacy or health clinic, where available.

You can find use the vaccine clinic finder to book a slot and find a place near you to get a jab.

A reminder that COVID-19 vaccines are free, and it’s hugely important to stay on top of your booster appointments or to book in for an initial course of jabs if you haven’t already.

How do you show proof of your booster shot?

covid-19 proof of vaccination digital vaccination certificate
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After you’ve received your booster jab, you’ll see it appear on your immunisation record, which is linked to MyGov and Medicare.

The system has been updated to now show all three or four of your vaccine doses, including your booster(s), on your digital certificate.

Services Australia says you’ll need to re-download an updated vaccine certificate after your booster if you had previously saved it offline, to your device’s digital wallet or shared it with a state check-in app.

In other vaccine-related news (though not booster-specific), The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved administering Moderna vaccines for children aged between 6 months old and five back in late July.

As the ABC reports, ATAGI has since made the recommendation to the government that Moderna COVID-19 vaccines be administered to at-risk children from 6 months to under five years of age, from September 5, 2022.

This article has been updated with additional information on COVID-19 booster shots.