News Coronavirus Booster uptake warning ahead of winter
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Booster uptake warning ahead of winter

COVID-19 aged care
Some 596 aged care facilities have recorded at least one COVID-19 death this year. Photo: Getty
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Infectious diseases experts have stressed the need for a greater uptake in COVID-19 boosters before winter.

With the colder months expected to bring a spike in infections, coupled with the emergence of the first serious flu season in two years, Sanjaya Senanayake from the Australian National University said third and fourth doses of the vaccine were critical.

“COVID is a respiratory virus, it seems to behave more aggressively in winter. We haven’t had a big flu season for a couple of years,” he told the Nine Network on Thursday.

“If you are eligible for a COVID booster, get it now, and also get your flu vaccine. You can get them at the same time.”

Prof Senanayake said while he was optimistic for the COVID-19 situation as booster rates increased, there was still the potential for new variants to emerge.

“What I don’t want to see is a new, completely different variant to come onto the scene and ruin everything,” he said.

“But because (Omicron) has been so infectious, we have high vaccination rates. I’m hopeful we’ll start to head towards this becoming endemic and part of our lives, rather than something new that’s been thrust upon us.”

Figures show 68.5 per cent of the eligible population have received their booster shot.

It comes as the country’s leading vaccine advisory body continues to look at whether to extend boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds.

In its latest statement published on Thursday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation said it was reviewing all new evidence on COVID-19 treatments and recommendations.

In particular, the group was looking at the children aged 12 to 15, who are currently unable to receive boosters.

ATAGI said they were considering data on serious illness and international use among the cohort, including use for those who were immunocompromised

Meanwhile, Australia may soon move away from reporting the total number of people who die from COVID-19 each day.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said it was time for Australia to move towards a concept known as “excess deaths”.

He said this was the difference between the number of people expected to die over a period of time, or as a result of an event such as a pandemic, and the actual number of deaths recorded.

“On this metric, Australia has performed extremely well throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Professor Kelly told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday.

“Although every death from COVID-19 is a sad event for family and friends and as a country, this is an outcome we should acknowledge.”

– AAP