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A 'very good decision': 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose announced for Aussies over 30

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Weekly science news from the Australian Science Media Centre
A ‘very good decision’: 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose announced for Aussies over 30
By Olivia Henry, the Australian Science Media Centre
Australians aged over 30 will be eligible for a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week, Health Minister Mark Butler has announced.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) specifically recommended people aged 50 to 64 years should make sure they have their fourth dose, while people aged 30 to 49 years may choose to have a fourth shot – opening the jab up to 7.4 million more people.
The opportunity for additional protection comes in response to two new Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, which threaten a potential third wave of Omicron infections.
Experts have welcomed this announcement. In an AusSMC Expert Reaction, CSIRO’s Dr Daniel Layton said BA.4 and BA.5 are fast becoming the dominant variants in Australia.
These variants are able to evade our immune responses, and “even ignore vaccine-induced antibodies”, said Professor Cassandra Berry from Murdoch University.
Professor Layton told the AusSMC that the fourth shot can “increase our immunity to peak levels as the virus surges around Australia in winter, to help reduce hospitalisations and severe illness from the virus”.
The booster announcement also comes after Australia passed the bleak milestone of 10,000 COVID deaths earlier this week. More than three-quarters of these deaths occurred in the first half of 2022.
Associate Professor Menno van Zelm from Monash University told the AusSMC that offering the fourth dose is a “very good decision”, as Australia is currently experiencing its largest COVID-19 wave to date.
This is “mainly due to the infectivity of the Omicron variant, and the fact that very few people have been infected in the first waves”, he said.
“Even though hospitalisation rates are much lower in vaccinated individuals, the high infection rates lead to high numbers of patients requiring extra care. Thus, again, the hospitals are put under enormous pressure.”
“Any measure to alleviate this is very welcomed.”
While some may question the need for additional boosters, Associate Professor Paul Griffin from the University of Queensland told the AusSMC this is not an indicator that our strategies so far haven’t been working.
Rather, it is “further evidence of just how hard this virus is to combat and how quickly the situation changes as a result”, he said.
The continuing threat means we must not forget basic measures that helped stop the spread early on in the pandemic, such as mask wearing, social distancing and proper ventilation, A/Prof Griffin added.
“Perhaps we just need to ensure people are aware that even a fourth dose now, while of benefit and recommended, is not likely to be the last dose required, and may not even be the last dose recommended this year.”

You can read the Expert Reaction in full here

This article originally appeared in Science Deadline, a weekly newsletter from the AusSMC. You are free to republish this story, in full, with appropriate credit. 


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    Total 2 comments
    • Josey Wales

      They are killing Millions and Millions of people, why do people continue to make themselves victims?

      Stupid is as Stupid does… Want a chocolate bar to go with your vaccine little girl?

    • democrats are commies

      and the sheep line up

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