Australians ‘will need Covid vaccine booster shots every six to 12 months for years to prevent the pandemic from taking hold again’
- Booster shots will be available six months after a second dose from Monday
- ‘We will treat Covid like many other viruses that have been around for decades’
- ‘Giving a vaccine boost will help reduce virus circulation’ – Prof Jonathan Ball
- Australia only the second country – after Israel – to offer booster shots to all ages
- Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said boosters may be needed to go to the pub
Australians will need Covid vaccine booster shots at least once a year ‘for the foreseeable future’ to keep the deadly disease at bay.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia warned that with more deadly variants emerging, keeping people safe could require getting booster jabs every six to 12 months.
PGA president Trent Twomey said booster shots would help protect people from Covid for years to come until the virus becomes manageable.
Covid-19 booster shots may be needed to go to the pub or sporting events in Victoria
Australians may need got booster shots every six to 12 months for the foreseeable future
‘The question is what booster and what interval we need to get that booster, whether it’s every six, nine or 12 months. Those decisions need to be based on evidence and facts and at the moment that is an evolving space,’ he said.
Covid-19 vaccine booster shots will be available for all adults six months after their second dose from November 8.
About 1.7 million Australians will be eligible for a booster dose by the end of 2021 but there is no percentage target the government hopes to reach.
Pharmacy Guild president Trent Twomey (pictured) says a Covid-19 shot will just be another element of the vaccination program
‘It will probably take until 2023 until we reach some sort of steady state vaccination program’ similar to the annual flu shot, Mr Twomey told Nine newspapers.
‘In time we will treat Covid like many other viruses that have been around for decades, and a Covid-19 shot will just be another element of the Australian vaccination program.’
Why are boosters being offered?
Overseas data showed the effectiveness of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines at stopping infections decreases over time.
A study in the UK in August showed two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine were 88 per cent effective at stopping infection after one month but that dropped to 74 per cent after five months.
The effectiveness of AstraZeneca dropped from 77 to 67 per cent.
Pfizer says its booster can restore effectiveness to 96 per cen
Though Australia passed the 80 per cent vaccinated mark for over 15s on Saturday, on a state-by-state basis just NSW, Victoria, and the ACT have reached that figure.
Jonathan Ball, Professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said vaccine immunity waned over time.
‘This undoubtedly is contributing to the high levels of virus circulation. Giving a vaccine boost will help reduce virus circulation and likelihood of disease,’ he said.
‘If we have the doses, and the means to administer them, then I think it makes sense to increase the number of people eligible for that boost.
‘Vaccines really are the best way of keeping on top of this virus.’
Booster shots used in Australia will be the Pfizer vaccine regardless of what jab the patient had before.
AstraZeneca can be given instead if the patient had an allergic or serious reaction to Pfizer.
States and territories will decide whether residents need to have a booster to be considered fully vaccinated – but boosters will not be required for international travel.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said boosters may be needed to go to the pub or sporting events in his state.
‘A month before your six months is up, then you will get a message and your vaccination certificate, the thing that gets you the green tick, you’ll be prompted to go and book a time to go and have your booster shot,’ he said.
‘There may be state clinics in that or it might be all done through GPs and pharmacies, that hasn’t been worked through yet. We’re happy to play our part, though. So it’ll be about the maintenance of your vaccination status.’
The move makes Australia only the second country in the world – after Israel – to offer booster shots to all ages.
The US offers them to those over 65 and high risk workers while the UK offers third jabs to residents over 55 and frontline workers.