Covid booster shots to be required in Victoria to keep vaccine passport

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Victorians might quickly be required to get a 3rd booster shot or lose their totally vaccinated freedoms, with a message warning them earlier than their “six months is up”.

Victorians might quickly be required to get a 3rd Covid-19 booster shot or lose their totally vaccinated freedoms.

Daniel Andrews instructed on Sunday that going ahead, life for the vaccinated would “be about the maintenance of your vaccination status”.

The Victorian Premier made the feedback forward of a gathering of the medical regulator on Monday that might see third doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine supplied to most of the people as early as the top of subsequent week.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the federal authorities’s vaccine advisory physique, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), are contemplating booster shots for everybody six months after their second dose.

“I hope, and we’ll play our part in this, like a month before your six months is up, then you will get a message and your vaccination certificate, the thing that gets you the green tick, you’ll be prompted to go and book a time to go and have your booster shot,” Mr Andrews mentioned.

“There may be state clinics in that or it might be all done through GPs and pharmacies, that hasn’t been worked through yet. We’re happy to play our part, though. So it’ll be about the maintenance of your vaccination status.”

If boosters get the thumbs up, it could make Australia solely the second nation after Israel to roll out booster shots to its complete inhabitants.

Israel introduced earlier this month that booster shots would now be required to be thought of totally vaccinated, saying it could quickly cancel the vaccination passports – referred to as the Green Pass – of greater than 1,000,000 individuals who have been eligible for, however had not but obtained, their third dose.

“Now is the time to be strict about the Green Pass, be cautious and not become complacent,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett mentioned.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has additionally mentioned the definition of “fully vaccinated” might change as boosters roll out.

Mr Andrews’ feedback seem to have caught the federal authorities off guard.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt had earlier downplayed questions over the booster program’s implications for vaccine passports that are actually required in states together with NSW and Victoria to entry primary freedoms equivalent to indoor eating, haircuts and gymnasiums.

In a press release on Sunday evening, Mr Hunt mentioned the federal authorities had “already flagged that the national booster program will commence once the TGA and ATAGI have considered and approved the use of boosters in Australia”.

“We have both the supply ordered and distribution capabilities to support any booster program recommended and currently, there is enough vaccine distributed for every Australian who chooses to do so to have their two doses to be considered fully vaccinated,” he mentioned.

“It is a matter for states as to how they wish to communicate that in addition to the national messaging.”

It’s understood the NSW authorities is awaiting additional steerage on booster shots from ATAGI and the federal authorities and can proceed to evaluate its place.

On Saturday, Mr Hunt had confused that “if you’re double vaccinated, you’re fully vaccinated” and that the booster was “additional protection”.

But Mr Hunt earlier this week refused to rule out a state of affairs the place Australians would be required to be “up-to-date” with their boosters for the needs of vaccine passports.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the Health Minister was requested whether or not “you ever imagine a situation where the passports that we have now, [and] are going to have for travel, will include needing to be up-to-date with your booster shot”.

“Sure. Look, [we] will follow medical advice on that and I won’t speculate on passports,” Mr Hunt mentioned.

“I think that’s very much a medical question with the science to flow over the coming months. So, it’s a fair question.”

Mr Hunt equally wouldn’t rule out boosters being required to be thought of totally vaccinated for some industries equivalent to healthcare.

“Look, I won’t speculate, as ever, on the medical advice – we’ll continue to follow it,” he mentioned. “Right now, we’re at the point of opening up the booster program.”

At the identical press convention, chief medical officer Paul Kelly had confused that double-vaxxed “means you’re fully vaccinated” and that “the booster gives you a boost in your protection”.

“Paul has just said two doses is fully vaccinated,” Mr Hunt mentioned. “A booster is a booster.”

On Saturday, deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd once more emphasised that “if you have had two doses of Covid-19 vaccine you are fully vaccinated, and you are already very well protected against becoming severely unwell if you are infected with Covid-19”.

“This is little evidence at this time, that protection against severe disease wanes over time in those who are double vaccinated,” Professor Kidd mentioned.

“But what we do know if that antibody levels fall over time and there is a risk of breakthrough infections where vaccinated people may become infected and at risk of transmitting Covid-19 to others. So, a booster dose, if you like, turbocharges your immune response and provides additional layers of protection to you and to your loved ones, and to the wider community.”

Prof Kidd mentioned if it had now been six months because you obtained your second dose, “there is no reason to be anxious”.

“But I do recommend that if boosters do become available, that you present for your booster dose when it is your turn,” he mentioned.

“It is likely if booster doses are approved that these will rollout initially to those who were vaccinated first in Australia. Which includes the residents and staff of residential aged care facilities, and disability care facilities, healthcare workers, and those working in border and quarantine facilities.”

Asked on Sunday what science or knowledge over the approaching months would decide whether or not boosters would be required to be thought of “fully vaccinated”, Mr Hunt’s workplace directed enquiries to his division.

“Based on the medical advice and as Australia’s chief medical officer has said, you are fully vaccinated at two doses,” a Health Department spokeswoman mentioned.

“ATAGI is currently actively looking at the need for booster doses. ATAGI will provide further advice in the coming weeks based on the clinical evidence informing the use of additional vaccine doses, including whether a booster dose is required to maintain protection against Covid-19 and, if so, how often it should be administered.”

Mr Andrews has warned that unvaccinated Victorians will be locked out of the “vaccinated economy” a minimum of till 2023.

“Two doses, or you’re not getting in,” Mr Andrews mentioned on Sunday.

“Some masks in some settings, principally indoors, where there is a greater risk, and the economy being open to you only if you have had two shots, only if you are fully vaccinated. They are two rules that be enduring. They are the two rules that will be with us right throughout 2022. That is as close to normal as any part of our nation and any part of the world can be.”

frank.chung@information.com.au

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