Australians are expected to be receiving booster vaccination shots to protect them against COVID-19 in early November, health minister Greg Hunt says.
Medical regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved Pfizer booster shots for Australians for people aged 18 years and older, six months after their second dose.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is yet to provide advice on exactly when the doses should be received.
“But subject to that ATAGI final advice we intend to commence the general population boost program no later than November 8,” Hunt said.
“We will commence aged care and disability as a priority.”
Hunt said it was a “universal booster” and available for people who have had Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Moderna.
TGA head John Skerritt said the regulator made the approval of the vaccine for booster shots for people older than 18 on Tuesday night, based on data from clinical trials.
“It doesn’t mean that everyone needs to front up on six months and one day. It’s at least six months after completion of the COVID vaccine primary series,” Skerritt said.
“It’s the same dose administered in the same way as the first two shots of Pfizer.”
He said two doses did provide excellent protection against serious illness, hospitalisation and death but boosters could give additional protection against mild symptoms and may offer further prevention of transmission.
The TGA expects by January 1, 2022, there will be 1.6 million people due to receive a booster dose.
“Because of the efforts of the government — including the additional procurement from overseas — there is more than enough vaccine the system to cover that,” Skerritt said.
He said the TGA had also received a Pfizer application for five to 11-year-olds and was working with other companies such as Moderna on providing boosters.
Australia with two doses of a coronavirus vaccine had reached 74.12% on Wednesday while 87.09% had received one dose.