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COVID-19 booster shots set for green light

COVID-19 booster shots for the general public are expected to soon get the green light from Australia’s medical regulator.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s vaccine committee was meeting on Monday to discuss whether to formally approve the top-up shots.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation was also due to examine the matter before providing advice to the government.

While the COVID-19 boosters have been made available for severely immunocompromised Australians, they have yet to be approved for the general public.

The medical regulator will be considering data surrounding booster shots from overseas before a final decision is made.

The head of Australia’s vaccine rollout said it was likely mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, would be predominantly used for the third vaccine doses.

Lieutenant General John Frewen said he expected Australians in aged care, disability care and frontline health would be among the first to receive top-up jabs once approval is granted.

“We expect it will recommend probably between six to 12 months when people should consider having a booster shot,” he told the Nine Network on Monday.

It comes as Australia’s vaccine rollout continued to climb, with more than 126,000 doses administered on Sunday.

The latest vaccine figures show more than 73 per cent of Australians over 16 are fully vaccinated while 86.8 per cent have received their first dose.

For 12 to 15-year-olds, 34.5 per cent are fully vaccinated while almost two-thirds have had one dose.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was on track to have one of the highest vaccine rates in the world.

“The response of the Australian people to the national plan has been truly extraordinary,” he told parliament on Monday.

“What that has meant is Australia will emerge from this pandemic with one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.”

WA is now the only jurisdiction to have a double-dose rate of below 60 per cent.

As more school students returned to the classroom in NSW and ACT on Monday with the easing of restrictions, case numbers fell across jurisdictions.

There were 1461 new infections and seven deaths reported on Monday in Victoria.

The number of Victorians in hospital with COVID-19 now stands at 802, with 152 in intensive care and 92 on ventilators.

NSW recorded another day below 300 cases, with 294 reported on Monday.

There were four more deaths, taking the toll from the state’s outbreak past 500.

The ACT also recorded another day of single-digit case numbers, with nine reported, while testing numbers remained down.

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