Exactly Who Needs to Get the Omicron-Specific Vaccine That’s Just Landed in Australia

new covid booster vaccine australia omicron 2022

Australia has just begun its rollout of the first COVID-19 booster that offers protection against both the original strain and the Omicron variant. It’s designed to give better and more targeted protection to the most prevalent strain of the disease which is still wreaking havoc across the country even though we’ve broadly seemed to stop caring about it.

Last week, the National Cabinet announced that mandatory isolation for people with COVID would end on October 14, something that has been described as a “gut punch” for medically vulnerable Australians.

With NSW Premier Dominic Perrotett leading the charge for scrapping the isolation period, he said that we’ve now moved into the era of “personal responsibility” and that everyone should be taking their own precautions against spreading the disease.

Australian doctors have slammed the move, with Australian Medical Association president Professor Steve Robson saying that the decision is not “scientifically literate.”

Elsewhere he urged people to remain vigilant and to keep up to date with their vaccinations.

“People aren’t bothering to have boosters, we’ve got waning immunity in a big way,” he said. “The COVID numbers look artificially low because the government has made it harder to get a PCR, and no one gives a rat about RATs.”

So, with personal responsibility now the name of the game, it’s very much down to the individual to ensure that they get their boosters to keep COVID immunity in the community high.

With the latest COVID jab being rolled out from today, here’s how you can do just that.

New COVID Booster

As of today, Moderna’s Omicron-specific booster jab will now be available at clinics and pharmacies around the country.

The jab, officially called ‘Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1’ or ‘mRNA 1273.214’, was approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration on August 30.

Similar combination boosters are already being used in the UK, the EU, and Canada while the US is charging ahead with a BA.4 and BA.5 booster to target newer strains of Omicron.

Moderna’s new vaccine has mRNA information that tells our immune systems how to fight both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron BA.1 strain of the virus. Even though the original strain has basically disappeared, having an updated booster for both that and the highly mutated Omicron variant is thought to give better overall protection and may reduce the severity of future COVID variants.

Trials on the effectiveness of the new jab, conducted by Moderna, show that it produces 1.75 times more antibodies than the original vaccine after 28 days. Higher antibody levels are seen especially in those who have already had COVID.

In June, Moderna’s chief medical officer, Paul Burton, told the ABC that these antibody levels are “guaranteed to correlate with clinical protection against infection and against severe disease”.

Who Is Eligible for a Fourth COVID Booster?

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have recommended that everyone above the age of 16 who had their first two jabs more than six months ago should get a third dose or a ‘booster’.

Those who are 50 years or older are recommended to get a further fourth dose or second booster.

In addition, those who should also get a fourth dose include people who are aged 16 and over and:

  • Are a resident in an aged care or disability care facility
  • Have complex, chronic, or severe medical conditions
  • Have a disability with significant or complex health needs

While people above the age of 30 are eligible to receive a fourth dose or second booster, ATAGI has stated that “the benefit for people in this age group is less certain.” Anyone who wants one should discuss their individual health needs with a medical professional.

This being said, ATAGI are advising that this new Moderna vaccine can be used as an alternative vaccine for any booster dose in people aged 18 and over.

So, if you fit the criteria above, or you’re 18 and over and haven’t got your third jab yet, this should be the one for you.

How to Book a Fourth COVID Booster

Moderna’s Spikevax bivalent vaccine is available now at certain clinics and pharmacies in Australia.

To find our nearest location, head to the Department of Health’s Vaccine Clinic Finder page and select the ‘Moderna (12 years+) and Bivalent (18 years +)’ vaccine option.

Related: The UK Just Dropped an Omicron Vaccine, But Why Is Australia Never First to Get Jabbed?

RelatedModerna is Working on a Three-In-One COVID, Cold, and Flu Vaccine

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