COVID crisis: Fourth-dose rollout on the cards as immunity wanes

Owen LeonardNCA NewsWire
ATAGI will on Tuesday discuss the merits of wider fourth-dose rollout. Supplied
Camera IconATAGI will on Tuesday discuss the merits of wider fourth-dose rollout. Supplied Credit: Supplied

Australia‘s top doctors are considering rolling out a fourth vaccine dose with COVID immunity waning through the winter months.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation will discuss expanding the fourth-dose rollout to include those aged under 65 when it meets on Tuesday.

It comes as the country grapples with more infectious sub-variants and declining vaccine protection against the virus.

There are currently more than 3500 Australians hospitalised with COVID, according the Department of Health, despite more than 95 per cent of the population aged over 16 considered to be fully vaccinated.

ATAGI will on Tuesday discuss the merits of wider fourth-dose rollout. Supplied
Camera IconATAGI will on Tuesday discuss the merits of wider fourth-dose rollout. Supplied Credit: Supplied

ATAGI last month expanded fourth-dose eligibility to include those who are immunocompromised regardless of their age, with the benefits of incorporating the wider population to be discussed by the COVID working group while the nation struggles to shake off the disease.

Perth-based GP Sean Stevens recently told the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners a fourth dose could make sense for those most at risk but wasn’t favourable for fit and healthy Australians.

“I think healthcare workers are like any other members of society and the healthcare workers who are at risk do qualify … and should be front of the line for getting the fourth winter dose,” he told newsGP.

“This evidence is that a fourth dose in vulnerable populations will reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalisation, but a fourth dose in healthy people doesn’t significantly reduce your risk of catching COVCID.

“If you’re a fit, healthy healthcare worker, then there’s probably not a lot of point.”

Infectious Diseases physician Paul Griffin backed a widely available fourth dose, however, telling The Daily Telegraph it would make sense amid spiking transmission.

“We have more infectious sub-variants where our vaccine protection is waning,” he said.

“I think particularly as we go through what looks to be a very significant wave of transmission, increasing access to that fourth dose would make sense.”

Australia is currently recording about 30,000 cases a day.

Originally published as Fourth-dose rollout on the cards as Covid immunity wanes

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