Australia’s best medico says a third COVID booster job could be enough for lifelong protection

Australians may not need an annual COVID booster shot, says the country’s best medico, unless new varieties come along.

The announcement of the start of the country’s booster program on Friday spoke to chief physician Paul Kelly about the level of protection that a third jab offers.

Currently, all three vaccines used in Australia – AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna – require two plugs.

Up to 500,000 immunocompromised people will begin receiving a third shot from Monday.

But Kelly says it’s all people may need, even though he admitted it was still early days.

Chief Physician Professor Paul Kelly speaks during a press conference in Parliament.
Chief Physician Professor Paul Kelly speaks during a press conference in Parliament. Credit: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

“At this stage, it probably looks like a third dose is all we know about,” he said.

“Keep in mind that we’re only less than a year away from this trial worldwide, so at the moment it seems like a third dose is enough, but we’ll just have to see.”

He said the emergence of new varieties could change that plan and underscore the need for vaccine capital.

“One of the issues that has come up in the past in relation to this is the impact of other variants of concern,” he said.

People arrive to be vaccinated at the mass vaccination center at New South Wales Health in Homebush.
People arrive to be vaccinated at the mass vaccination center at New South Wales Health in Homebush. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

“And that’s why the previous question is very important, that we support the whole world in this global pandemic, because this is where variants of concern will come.”

A Pfizer job is preferred for individuals two to six months after their second dose with a minimum interval of four weeks in special circumstances.

Severe immunocompromised people who received their second dose more than six months ago should receive a new injection as soon as possible.

ATAGI is expected to provide advice on booster shots to the wider population before the end of October.

A nurse holds a needle containing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Qudos Bank Arena vaccination clinic in Sydney.
A nurse holds a needle containing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Qudos Bank Arena vaccination clinic in Sydney. Credit: BRENDON THORNE/AAPIMAGE

Health Secretary Greg Hunt confirmed it would be made public.

“We have over 150 million vaccines secured for the future and therefore we are able to implement it on the time frame and the urgency and immediacy proposed by ATAGI,” he told reporters.

As for the fact that a third shot was the last, he said it was a situation in development.

“In terms of booster doses, in terms of an annual situation, it will be a global medical issue … but if it is the medical advice, we are ready to implement it.”

– With AAP

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