Australians now have a choice between two Covid-19 booster jabs after the nation’s vaccine immunisation advisory body gave the Moderna booster the green light.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on Sunday approved Moderna to join Pfizer as the preferred vaccine for booster doses.
The Moderna booster dosage is half the usual dose and appointments for a shot can be booked in at GPs, pharmacies and commonwealth and state run vaccine clinics.
It does not matter what vaccine a person received as part of their first Covid-19 course.
It comes as the federal government acted on advice from ATAGI to reduce the wait for a booster shot down to five months.
Around 670,000 Australians have already received a booster shot.
In a statement, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia was well prepared ahead of an expected increase in demand for booster shots.
“Australia’s booster program is supported by more than 151 million Pfizer, Novavax and Moderna vaccines secured for supply into the future,” Mr Hunt said.
“Australia is well prepared to provide booster doses as approvals are provided by the medical experts.”
It’s expected the Health Minister will receive the Moderna booster later on Sunday.
Just last week Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said ATAGI had ruled there was not enough evidence to support shortening the time frame between the second dose and a booster shot.
“There is no evidence to suggest, at the moment, that an earlier booster does of the current Covid-19 vaccines, will augment the protection against the omicron variant,” Professor Kelly said.
But after more data about the Omicron variant and vaccine efficacy became available, the advice changed.
Data from Israel shows boosters supporting reductions in the rate of infection in eligible age groups, severe disease in those aged over 40 years and deaths in those over 60 years.
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said there was an “urgent need” for people to get extra protection from the virus.
“Thanks ATAGI,” he tweeted.
“There is an urgent need for third doses/boosters. Don’t delay if you’re due. I’ll now get mine before Christmas.”