Australia advises against fifth dose of vaccine as new wave of Covid develops

Australia advises against fifth dose of vaccine as new wave of Covid develops

By Lewis Jackson

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian health officials have recommended against receiving a fifth COVID-19 vaccine, even as they urged eligible people to register for their remaining booster doses as the latest wave of COVID country is developing rapidly.

Average daily cases had been 47% higher last week than the previous week, Health Minister Mark Butler told a news conference on Tuesday, announcing new vaccination recommendations. But cases remain 85% below the previous peak, at the end of July.

Butler said the Australian Immunization Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) had recommended against a fifth dose, or third booster, after evidence from the recent wave in Singapore showed serious illness and death were rare among vaccinees and that a fifth vaccine had minimal impact on the virus. transmission.

“ATAGI considered international evidence as well as local data regarding vaccination numbers, as well as case numbers in the pandemic and decided not to recommend a fifth dose,” Butler said.

“They noted that serious illnesses and deaths during this wave in Singapore were very rare for people who had received at least two doses of the COVID vaccine.”

Further booster recommendations will be made early next year before winter in the southern hemisphere.

Butler urged those who have not yet received the recommended number of vaccines to do so, with 5.5 million Australians, around a fifth of the population, who have yet to receive a third dose despite they are eligible.

Butler also accepted ATAGI’s recommendations that Pfizer’s Omicron-specific vaccine should be approved as a booster dose for adults; 4.7 million doses will arrive ahead of a rollout due to begin on December 12.

The company’s vaccine for children aged six months to five years will also be approved for use on severely immunocompromised people.

Speaking alongside Butler, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the Singaporean experience suggested the current surge would soon peak and cases would then drop rapidly.

(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Bradley Perrett)

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