News ATAGI ponders COVID-19 booster shots for teenagers
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ATAGI ponders COVID-19 booster shots for teenagers

ATAGI is considering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as a booster for children aged between 12 and 15. ( Photo: AAP
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Australia’s leading vaccine advisory group is considering whether to approve COVID-19 boosters for 12 to 15-year-olds.

As the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation last week moved to approve a fourth dose for elderly and at-risk people, the group is also weighing up whether to expand the vaccine rollout for young people.

A statement from the federal health department said ATAGI was reviewing data on the use of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds as a booster.

Currently, boosters are only approved for those 16 and over.

The review of Pfizer data will include information on serious illness, epidemiology and international rollout among the age group.

“ATAGI is continuing to look at emerging evidence on the use of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments as part of its ongoing review of current recommendations,” the health department said in a statement.

It comes after ATAGI last week approved a winter dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to those over 65, Indigenous Australians over 50, those in aged or disability care, along with those who are immunocompromised.

The fourth dose, or second booster, will be rolled out among the cohort from April 4, with people eligible for the dose four months after their first booster shot.

However, a second booster was not recommended for the broader population.

The new ATAGI advice was put in place ahead of a predicted surge of COVID-19 cases in winter, coinciding with a likely spike in flu cases.

Case numbers of COVID-19 have been increasing across the country in recent days due to infections linked to an Omicron sub-variant.

On Tuesday, Tasmania recorded the state’s highest daily case count since it reopened its border in mid-December, along with its 30th fatality.

In Victoria, opposition leader Matthew Guy is isolating after his son tested positive for COVID-19, one day after Premier Daniel Andrews returned a positive result.

New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean has also tested positive, saying the virus has finally caught up with him.

There were 46,875 new cases of COVID-19 reported nationally on Tuesday, with 21,494 in NSW, 10,916 in Victoria, 10,326 in Queensland, 8910 in WA, 4201 in SA, 2324 in Tasmania, 1063 in the ACT and 408 in the Northern Territory.

Thirty one deaths linked to the virus were also reported on Tuesday, with nine each in NSW and Qld and six in WA.

Latest 24-hour COVID data

NSW: 21,494 cases, nine deaths, 1283 in hospital, 53 in ICU

ACT: 1063 cases, 49 in hospital, four in ICU

Vic: 10,916 cases, five deaths, 284 in hospital, 33 in ICU

Qld: 10,326 cases, nine deaths, 325 in hospital, 14 in ICU

WA: 8910 cases, six deaths, 219 in hospital, six in ICU

Tas: 2324 cases, one death, 22 in hospital, none in ICU

NT: 408 cases, 12 in hospital, two in ICU

SA: 4201 cases, one death, 170 in hospital, seven in ICU.