Pfizer and Moderna boosters now available from five months

Monday, 13 December, 2021

Pfizer and Moderna boosters now available from five months

Australians aged 18 and over now have the choice to receive a Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot, following approval of the former by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). The dosage for use as a booster dose is 50 µg (0.25 mL), which is half of the recommended dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine used for the primary course.

ATAGI considers the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to be equally acceptable as booster vaccines for all people aged 18 years and older, including pregnant women, irrespective of what vaccine a person received for their primary course of vaccination. The AstraZeneca vaccine is not yet approved as a booster but can be used for people who have contraindications to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines or who had AstraZeneca for their primary course.

ATAGI has also updated its advice to recommend booster doses be provided from five (down from six) months after completion of the primary course, given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants. Australian residents aged 18 and over who have completed their primary two-dose course of vaccination at least five months ago are now eligible to have a booster shot, which should make sure that the protection from the primary course is even stronger and longer lasting. Booster doses are not yet recommended for severely immunocompromised people; however, this cohort can access a third primary dose of vaccine a minimum of two months after their second dose to boost their protection to the highest level.

Finally, ATAGI has recommended the Pfizer vaccine be made available to all children aged 5–11 to help prevent serious illness from COVID-19 as well as community transmission. Whilst most children who get COVID-19 will have mild or no symptoms, some children will experience severe disease and can be sick for months from COVID-related complications.

Clinical trials have shown the vaccine to be more than 90% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed symptomatic COVID-19 from seven days after a person has had their second dose. The vaccine was demonstrated to be well tolerated, with most adverse effects being mild and transient.

The vaccine for this age group is one-third of the dosage given to people aged 12 years and over. ATAGI, after reviewing clinical data from Canada, recommended an eight-week interval between the two doses, which can be shortened to three weeks in special circumstances such as outbreak settings. The Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) and ATAGI are also assessing the Moderna vaccine for children 6–11 years of age, with advice expected over the coming weeks.

Parents, carers and guardians will be able to book appointments for their children from 15 December, with vaccinations starting on 10 January 2022. People eligible for a booster vaccine can meanwhile make an appointment right now through the Vaccine Clinic Finder.

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