As the weather cools down, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended an extra COVID-19 vaccine booster for at-risk groups in the population.
The government is encouraging a fourth COVID vaccine shot for Australians aged over 65 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50+, and people living in aged care and disability care facilities. People in these cohorts including immunocompromised people faced a greater risk of severe illness from COVID, ATAGI said.
In a statement on Friday, health minister Greg Hunt said that similar to the flu and other respiratory viruses, there was a greater chance of catching COVID during the winter.
“Although COVID-19 is prevalent year-round, the cold weather can make it easier for viruses to infect our bodies.
“A booster is your best protection against the most severe impacts of COVID and may provide protection against long COVID,” he said.
Hunt added that people belonging to groups identified by ATAGI as at-risk should seek out a fourth booster shot before winter. Eligible people have also been advised they can receive their fourth COVID dose at the same time as their flu shot if four months had passed since their previous COVID booster.
“Even if you have had COVID-19, it is important to maximise your protection from severe illness and have a booster,” the health minister reiterated.
“ATAGI will continue to review available evidence on the epidemiology of COVID-19, the potential impact of the emergence of new variants, and will update its advice if required.”