Australians due for their Covid-19 booster shot could soon have choice another with Moderna expected to seek approval within the coming weeks.
The Pfizer vaccine was last week approved for the general public as a third dose. It is currently the only top-up vaccine available to those who receive their second dose more than six months ago.
More than 100,000 booster shots have already been administered in Australia since the announcement.
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday said the booster program was already “ahead of expectations” and that the government was “excited” for Moderna to make its application to join the program.
“Moderna is due to make an application in the coming weeks. They‘ve indicated to us late last week that they are preparing to submit, and they indicated that publicly,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“The TGA, which has just done an amazing job, will work through that. And when they’re ready, when they’ve done the assessment, they’ve made findings and presuming that they find it to be safe and effective, then that will be added to the list of boosters.”
This week, the first vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds received emergency approval in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration said the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 90.7 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 in children aged 5 to 11-years-old.
Mr Hunt said that Pfizer had begun the process of an application in Australia, which the TGA would also consider “as quickly as possible”
“As soon as they’re ready, we’re ready, as soon as the medical regulator is ready and they’ve done all of the work to ensure that it’s safe and effective, we have the doses; we have the distribution system.
“States, GPs, aged care facilities, they’re all stepping in, and we’re ready to commence as soon as the TGA has completed its assessment and then obviously ATAGI.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that both booster shots and vaccines for under-12s will be on the agenda when national cabinet meets on Friday.
“The premier of NSW and I will be putting forward a number of very important things to the PM. By the end of the meeting, if not before he will be in no doubt about what Victoria and NSW need,” Mr Andrews said.
“It isn’t over … until we get boosters into people’s arms.”
Just weeks after 12 to 15-year-olds became eligible to receive the vaccine, more than 68 per cent have already received a first dose of either Pfizer or Moderna. The government is hopeful for a similarly swift rollout after a vaccine approval for five to 12-year-olds.
Australia is this week set to hit a major milestone of 80 per cent aged 16 and over fully vaccinated.
Currently, 88.86 per cent of Australians aged over 16 have received a first dose and 79.07 per cent fully vaccinated.