Winter booster COVID-19 vaccine for higher risk groups
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended a winter booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccination aimed at increasing immunity before winter for selected high-risk groups.
This is an important recommendation that will further protect at-risk individuals from severe illness and reduce hospitalisations related to COVID-19 during winter.
The recommendation for a winter booster - which would be a fourth dose for a majority of those eligible - covers the following groups who have received their primary vaccination course and third booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine:
- adults aged 65 years and older;
- residents of aged care or disability care facilities;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older; and
- people aged 16 years and older with severe immunosuppression (refer to the ATAGI statement), who are already on their fourth dose - meaning this group will be obtaining their fifth dose, as part of their winter booster vaccine.
ATAGI does not currently recommend a fourth dose for healthy people who are not in one of the above groups, however people can seek further advice from their GP or health professional.
The winter booster dose can be given from four months or longer after the person has received their third dose or last booster dose, or four months after a confirmed COVID-19 infection, if the infection occurred since the person's third dose or last booster dose.
The rollout of the additional dose for these groups starts today, with vaccines available now. Eligible individuals can access the vaccine in GPs, pharmacies and State-run vaccination clinics.
Vaccines available for the additional winter booster dose aligns with current COVID-19 vaccine boosters being:
- Pfizer or Moderna as the preferred vaccines;
- AstraZeneca can be used under certain circumstances; or
- Novavax can be used if no other COVID-19 vaccine is considered suitable for that person.
For more information, people can refer to the ATAGI website about a fourth Winter booster or consult their GP or health professional.
It is also important for high-risk people to get a flu jab, which the ATAGI has confirmed can be given at the same time as the winter booster dose.
4 April 2022.