ATAGI signs off on whole-of-population booster program

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination booster program will begin on November 8.

While it will initially focus on aged care residents and health workers, all vaccinated Australians will be able to get a third jab six months after their second.

“This booster program will obviously have a focus especially on aged care and healthcare workers, but it is an all-population booster program,” Mr Morrison said.

St Vincent’s Hospital Wards Person Supervisor Eliza Attwood after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at RPA in Sydney. (Kate Geraghty)

He said Australia had enough vaccines stockpiled to ensure that every Australian who wanted one, would get one.

Vaccine advisory body ATAGI has signed off the plan.

The Pfizer vaccine will be on offer at pharmacies, and it’s expected to be joined by a fourth vaccine, Novavax, which could be soon approved.

Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed ATAGI had recommended a whole-of-nation approach.

“Commencing on November 8, the booster will be available on the basis of six-months-plus from your second vaccination,” Mr Hunt said.

“The early priority will be a focus on aged care and disability but by definition, we have enough vaccines in the country to vaccinate everybody who comes due, and as your six months pass, then you will be able to be eligible to come forward.”

He said the first aged care boosters would begin today, ahead of the national rollout on November 8.

“If any GPs wish to commence, they are in a position to do that, but we’re setting this program to commence more generally across the country,” Mr Hunt said.

“I’m also pleased that will be offering Pfizer to all pharmacies in Australia and they can use that for primary and secondary doses or to complete the booster program for people.”

“That is an extraordinary achievement by Australians all around the country,” he said.

“Australians are doing what their part of the deal was, and we are keeping our part of the deal because from Monday, fully vaccinated Australians we will see them being able to travel overseas.”

More than 90 per cent of eligible Victorians have had their first COVID-19 vaccination, as Melbourne enjoys its first weekend out of its sixth lockdown.
More than 90 per cent of eligible Victorians have had their first COVID-19 vaccination. (Getty)

Meanwhile, in welcome news for Australian families trying to get home from overseas, Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said families would not be separated if their children are not vaccinated.

Professor Kelly said some jurisdictions, including the UK, had not yet rolled out a two-dose vaccination program for children aged 12 to 17.

Australia requires over-12s to be vaccinated.

“We’re not going to be splitting up families,” Professor Kelly said.

He said those unvaccinated children would travel above the cap, and the family would be subject to a seven-day home quarantine and extra tests.

Further details will be revealed later today.

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