- Australians will be able to access their COVID-19 booster shots earlier, following a change in recommendation amid the Omicron outbreak
- From January 4, those who are double-dosed can receive their booster shot four months after their second shot, while from January 31 the wait time will reduce to three months
- Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the change on Friday, after several states and territories pushed for a shorter time frame as case numbers spike
- The decision was also made after new evidence emerged showing a third booster dose of the vaccine can help a person avoid serious disease
Australians will be able to access their COVID-19 booster shots earlier, following a change in expert medical advice from officials amid the current Omicron outbreak.
From January 4, those who are double-dosed can receive their third booster shot four months after their second shot.
From January 31 the wait time will be halved to just three months post second-dose.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the new timeline on Friday, stating around 16 million Australians will be able to get their third jab at that time.
“It’s no surprise we will be bringing forward the eligibility for the booster dose to four months as of January 4,” Mr Hunt said.
“Currently that means that we will go from about 3.2 million people who are eligible today to approximately 7.5 million who will be eligible as January 4.
“It will be expanded again on the 31st of January to three months and that will take it out to 16 million Australians who will be eligible at that point in time.”
The Federal Government’s decision comes amid increased pressure from some State and Territory leader for more action, as COVID-19 case numbers skyrocket.
NSW recorded more than 5600 cases on Friday, Victoria notched up 2095, Queensland recorded 589 cases, Canberra hit 102 new cases while Tasmania has 27 new infections.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said new evidence shows booster shots can help a person avoid getting seriously ill from Omicron.
“It is four weeks today since we found out about Omicron, this new variant of concern, and in those four weeks we have already gained a lot of information,” Dr Kelly said.
“The positive effect of that is that we do know now that boosters do protect and increase that protection against severe disease once that third dose is given or a fourth dose in the case of immunocompromised people.”