News Good News Need a boost? Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 booster shots

Need a boost? Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 booster shots

Pfizer booster shots have been approved for the general population.
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Double dosed and ready to re-enter the world? Good news: Australian adults could soon become triple threats to the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the Therapeutic Goods Administration had approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for booster shots.

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s a booster shot?

The coronavirus ‘booster shot’ is a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given at least six months after the second jab.

What’s the medical advice?

People who are fully vaccinated with two doses of an approved COVID vaccine will be provided “additional protection and peace of mind” from a booster shot, Mr Hunt said in a statement.

Which vaccine will I be given?

All of the COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia have been approved by Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) as safe and effective, but only Pfizer has been approved as a booster.

The government also expects Moderna and Novavax to apply for registration to give boosters in the future.

As reported by The New Daily in May, health secretary Brendan Murphy said Australians should expect to “mix and match” vaccines.

And it may even be more beneficial, but further studies into that are ongoing.

When can I get it?

Mr Hunt has flagged the booster shots will begin “no later than November 8” for the general population.

The TGA decision is a big step towards the boosters becoming available to everyone, but the federal government is still waiting for advice from ATAGI to confirm exactly who can get it and when.

Mr Hunt expects about 1.6 million people to be eligible for the booster by January, six months after their second dose.

Will there be enough to go around?

According to the Health Minister, “we have the supplies [and] we have a distribution mechanism”.

Australia has secured more than 151 million Pfizer, Novavax and Moderna vaccines, he said, and is well prepared to give booster doses as approved by medical experts.

Where can I get it?

The Pfizer vaccine has recently been made available at pharmacies.

Mr Hunt said the federal government would work with states, GPs and pharmacies on the booster rollout.

Who can get it?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the program will launch in aged care first.

“The TGA approval which gives those booster shots for over-18s, six months apart, we will be starting with those in the aged-care facilities like we did with the vaccine program,” Mr Morrison told Nine.

But who else?

Anyone who is aged over 18 years old and is fully vaccinated will be able to access the boosters six months after their second dose.

“It’s a universal booster, so it’s available for people who have had Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna,” Mr Hunt said.

What if I don’t want it?

Mr Hunt said the booster will not affect eligibility to do things like travel and enjoy freedom from restrictions.

But it will help keep you and your loved ones safer.

Watch this space for any changes to those rules.

Sounds familiar. Is this new information?

In early October, booster shots were approved and recommended for immunocompromised Australians.

At-risk groups will still be prioritised for a third dose, but the rest of the adult population will also become eligible from early November.

How is the vaccine rollout going?

More than 87 per cent of eligible Australians aged over 16 years had received their first dose of a COVID vaccine at time of publication, while more than 74 per cent were fully vaccinated.