Australians who get a fourth Covid jab will still be eligible for any new Omicron vaccine

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Australians who get a fourth Covid jab will still be able to get a fifth shot if a new vaccine which specifically targets the rampant Omicron strain is approved – however there could be a significant wait between the two doses.

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The fourth Covid jab was thrown open to all Australians aged over 30 on Thursday as the nation’s health experts rush to ease the burden on hospitals.

While the Australian Technical Advisory Group of Immunization (ATAGI) has not ‘strongly recommended’ those aged 30 to 49 get the second booster, they can if they choose.

The announcement left many in that age group wondering whether they should wait to see if a Moderna vaccine which targets Omicron, as well as the original coronavirus, is approved.

That vaccine is still being assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Australians who get a fourth Covid jab will still be able to get a fifth shot in the future if a new vaccine which specifically targets the rampant Omicron strain is approved

Australians who get a fourth Covid jab will still be able to get a fifth shot in the future if a new vaccine which specifically targets the rampant Omicron strain is approved

Australians who get a fourth Covid jab will still be able to get a fifth shot in the future if a new vaccine which specifically targets the rampant Omicron strain is approved

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The fourth Covid jab was thrown open to all Australians aged over 30 on Thursday as the nation's health experts rushed to ease the burden on hospitals

The fourth Covid jab was thrown open to all Australians aged over 30 on Thursday as the nation's health experts rushed to ease the burden on hospitals

The fourth Covid jab was thrown open to all Australians aged over 30 on Thursday as the nation’s health experts rushed to ease the burden on hospitals

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Aged Care told Daily Mail Australia that getting a fourth jab now would not stop anyone from later receiving a fifth shot of any new vaccine.

What we know about Omicron vaccine

Moderna has produced a vaccine it believes works against the Omicron variant as well as the original Covid-19 strain.

Preliminary studies show people given the experimental shot experience a higher boost in Omicron-fighting antibodies than from the currently available fourth jab.

The vaccine is being assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

“Having a fourth dose of the currently available vaccines would not preclude later access to a new vaccine that may offer better protection against transmission and the Omicron strain,” the spokeswoman said.

‘The availability and timing of any new vaccines is still subject to ongoing regulatory and other approvals and they have not yet been approved anywhere in the world.’

The spokeswoman said it was likely an interval of several months would be recommended between the fourth dose of the current vaccines and a dose of any new vaccine that became available.

‘This could be a factor in someone’s choice to have or not have a fourth dose in the 30 to 49 year old age group,’ she said.

ATAGI has stated that the evidence of any benefit in having a fourth dose for the 30 to 49 age group was not as strong for those over 50.

‘Some additional short term protection is likely to be achieved and those people who are keen to maximize short term protection in the context of another wave of Omicron may therefore choose to take up this option,’ the spokeswoman said.

The fourth Covid jab has been approved for all Australians aged over 30 as the nation's health experts rush to ease the strain on overcrowded hospitals

The fourth Covid jab has been approved for all Australians aged over 30 as the nation's health experts rush to ease the strain on overcrowded hospitals

The fourth Covid jab has been approved for all Australians aged over 30 as the nation’s health experts rush to ease the strain on overcrowded hospitals

ATAGI has declared Australians over 50 should receive their fourth jab, with the 50-64 age group ‘specifically recommended’ to do so from Monday, July 11.

The fourth vaccine is now available for an extra 7.4 million Australians, with residents aged 65 and over already eligible for the second booster.

The new wave of BA4 and BA5 subvariants are ripping through Australia due to high transmissibility, with early data suggesting the strains have evolved to evade the existing vaccines and acquire immunity.

On Thursday, there were 3,921 people with COVID-19 in hospitals across the country, still below the 5,000-plus around the Australia Day peak of Omicron, but an increase of 24 percent since mid-May.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler (above) said the new vaccine recommendations came as a response to surging numbers across the country

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler (above) said the new vaccine recommendations came as a response to surging numbers across the country

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler (above) said the new vaccine recommendations came as a response to surging numbers across the country

Symptoms of new BA4 and BA5 subvariants

Runny nose

Sneezing

Fatigue

Sore throat

Dry cough

Loss of taste

Loss of smell

Muscle aches and pains

Headache

Red or irritated eyes

Vomiting

Diarrhoea

Skin rash

Discoloration of fingers or toes

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the new vaccine recommendations came as a response to surging numbers across the country.

‘ATAGI specifically recommended that people aged 50 to 64 years should have their fourth dose, while people aged 30 to 49 years may choose to have a fourth shot,’ Mr. Butler said.

Of those aged 65 already eligible for the fourth vaccine, 60 percent had already received the jab.

The interval between vaccinations has also been reduced from four months to three months to combat the new wave of BA4 and BA5.

‘Case numbers are rising, hospitalizations are up by several hundred just in the fortnight, and most state governments and the federal government are projecting that this is going to continue for some time yet,’ Mr. Butler said.

‘We are absolutely committed to doing whatever we can as a government to get through this winter and get through this third Omicron wave that’s headed our way.’

The Therapeutic Goods Administration announced on Wednesday that it had granted two provisional determinations to Pfizer Australia for its vaccines Comirnaty Omicron and Comirnaty Bivalent.

It means Pfizer is now able to apply to the TGA for provisional registration of the two vaccines and seek authorization to bring them to the market.

People aged over 65 are already eligible for the fourth vaccine, with Mr. Butler confirming 60 percent of that age group have already received the jab

People aged over 65 are already eligible for the fourth vaccine, with Mr. Butler confirming 60 percent of that age group have already received the jab

People aged over 65 are already eligible for the fourth vaccine, with Mr. Butler confirming 60 percent of that age group have already received the jab

Queensland’s chief health officer Dr. John Gerrard said the new forms of the virus were not expected to peak until late July or early August.

It’s very likely that either you or someone you know close to you will be infected, it will be very common. My message is it’s important for you to prepare now,’ he said, urging the take-up of boosters.

As the nation grapples with rising case numbers, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says immunization experts will look at available evidence before making a recommendation on a broader fourth dose rollout.

There were 3,921 people with COVID-19 in hospitals across the country

There were 3,921 people with COVID-19 in hospitals across the country

There were 3,921 people with COVID-19 in hospitals across the country

“The pandemic is not over, so my view is that (Australia) will inevitably follow what has happened in other parts of the world and roll out a further booster shot,” he said on Wednesday.

‘I’d encourage people who haven’t had their booster shots to go out there if they’re eligible and do it as a matter of urgency.’

A fourth dose is currently available for Australians aged 65 and older and vulnerable people.

Victoria has extended its pandemic declaration by three months until at least October 12.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard also warned that anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated is ‘crazy’ as the state braces for a third wave to peak.

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