The first aged care residents have received their COVID-19 boosters, after a third vaccine dose was approved by the country’s peak advisory group.
While the top-up Pfizer dose will be rolled out to the general public from November 8, aged care residents and those with disabilities are now able to receive the boosters.
Indigenous Australians, those with underlying health conditions and workers in high-risk COVID settings will also be prioritised for boosters.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation signed off on the booster yesterday (Thursday), after provisional approval was granted by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) the day before.
The boosters will be able to be received six months after a person’s second dose.
While Pfizer has been approved as the booster, those who have been immunised with other vaccine brands will be able to get the top-up.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the boosters would not be mandatory but urged people to get the top-up.
“The Australian Government will consider the possibility of other vaccines being used for booster shots if successful applications are submitted to the TGA,” Morrison said.
“The booster program will roll out directly to people living in residential aged care facilities and people with a disability through an in-reach program.”
TLC Healthcare was the first aged care provider to offer the booster doses, through its Victorian facilities.
“We have a large number of residents who are immunocompromised, and for them, COVID-19 is a significant threat,” TLC chief executive Lou Pascuzzi said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed vaccine manufacturer Novavax was also set to submit its vaccine for approval to Australia in a matter of weeks.
The commonwealth has ordered 51 million doses of the vaccine, which has been used overseas.
It comes as the national vaccine rate for those aged over 16 passed 75 per cent on Thursday.
More than 87 per cent have received their first dose.
Morrison said the vaccine rate was on track to reach 80 per cent in a matter of days, ahead of international borders reopening.
“There are enough vaccines in Australia, not only for the boosters but for everyone who wants to get one,” he told parliament.
There were more than 221,000 vaccines administered in the past day.