The Federal Government has decided against making any changes to the country’s booster shot program, despite the threat of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) had been looking at whether to shorten the timeframe for fully vaccinated people to get their COVID booster shot.
However, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly confirmed on Friday there would be no change.
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“For the general population, the advice from ATAGI remains a six-month gap between that second dose and the booster,” Professor Kelly said.
“So, in summary, no change.
“To quote directly from them, there is no evidence to suggest that an earlier booster dose of the current COVID-19 vaccines will augment the protection against the Omicron variant.”
Professor Kelly said the new variant still appeared to lead to a milder form of the illness, despite being more transmissible than other strains. However, he stressed that research into the strain is still in it’s early days.
“I remain cautiously optimistic, but we need further information on vaccine efficacy and treatment efficacy (against Omicron),” Professor Kelly said.
The Federal Government also confirmed it will be providing another $540 million for the country’s COVID response.
It will include an extension of access to bulk-billed COVID-19 tests under the Medicare Benefits Scheme and aged care support for workforce surge capacity, single-site restrictions, pathology services and loans to ensure facilities with falling occupancy rates don’t close.
$48 million will also be funneled into medical research to explore multiple aspects of the virus, including vaccination, treatment and modelling.