COVID-19 booster jabs are available in Australia, who should get one?

According to the Department of Health (DoH), booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine are now available to anyone 18 years and over who has received a primary vaccine course at least 6 months ago.  A primary COVID-19 vaccine course consists of two doses of the following COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia: Comirnaty (Pfizer), Spikevax (Moderna) or Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca); or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, which is not currently available in Australia.

Evidence so far shows that the protection provided by vaccines like those from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna significantly drops six months after the second dose. In response to this findings, COVID-19 booster vaccines are now widely recommended to help improve our immune response to the virus.

The booster, however, is not recommended for everyone.

Who should get it?
According to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), booster shorts are not recommended for:

  • people aged 12 to 17 years
  • people who are severely immunocompromised and have already had a third dose

In addition, ATAGI has published some key recommendations about who should be the first to get a booster jab. The higher priority groups to receive boosters are people with established risk factors for COVID-19, and those at higher risk due to their place of work. According to ATAGI, the first recipients of the boosters should be:

  • People at greater risk of severe COVID-19. This includes:
    • Individuals aged 50 years and older
    • People with underlying medical conditions
    • Residents of aged care and disability facilities, and
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.
  • People at increased occupational risk of COVID-19: a booster dose for individuals in this group is expected to reduce their likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection and associated occupation-related impacts.

Currently, the DoH plans to roll out a COVID-19 booster program for residential aged care, people with disability and healthcare workers.

Which vaccine to get?
The Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine is currently recommended by ATAGI as a COVID-19 booster dose. This booster is available, regardless of which COVID-19 vaccines were used earlier. However, the AstraZeneca is also available if a person:

  • can’t have the Pfizer vaccine for medical reasons
  • had 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine previously.

People receiving a booster shot may experience mild side effects, similar to those experienced after receiving the first two doses of the vaccine. To learn more about booster shots and to make a booking, follow this link.