Moderna vaccine coming to Australia: What it means

In 2022, US pharmaceutical company Moderna will supply Australia with 15 million doses of an updated vaccine it is developing to beat new virus variants that evolved in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere.This is on top of the 10 million doses of its original COVID-19 vaccine that will be delivered later this year.Many of the original COVID-19 vaccines are not effective against mutant variants, with AstraZeneca’s vaccine just 10 per cent effective against the South African strain.The deal means Australians who have had the original COVID-19 vaccines can get a follow up jab next year to boost their protection.It is likely that just a single jab of the new vaccine will be needed to top up protection, but this has yet to be tested.The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine similar to the Pfizer jab it teaches our cells how to make a protein from the virus that causes COVID-19 and triggers an immune response inside our bodies.It has been approved for emergency use in the US for people aged over 18.Before it can be used here it will have to be approved by Australia’s medical regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration.It is one of the most successful vaccines on the market and was developed with a $2.5 billion funding injection from the US Government.COVID-19 Stats – Horizontal with Lazy LoadNED-3797-Whos-using-modernaTwo weeks after just a single shot of the Moderna vaccine the risk of COVID-19 infection was reduced by 80 per a real world study of vaccinated US, health workers found.The risk of infection fell 90 per cent by two weeks after the second shot.It is one of the most successful vaccines on the market.The US began using the vaccine in December 2020, France began using it in January 2021, Singapore in March 2021 and the UK in April 2021.Many Australians are hesitant to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine after a series of rare blood clots associated with it undermined confidence in our immunisation program.Supplies of Australia’s only other available alternative vaccine- Pfizer have been extremely low and won’t pick up until later this year.The Novavax vaccine we have purchased is still in clinical trials and is experiencing production problems.The Moderna jab will mean we have more than twice as many vaccines as we need to vaccinate Australians.WHO SHOULD AVOID THE MODERNA VACCINE?People who have allergies that produce anaphylactic reactions that mean they have to carry an epipen need to be cautious about having the Modern vaccine.A very small number of people have experienced anaphylactic reactions to the vaccine and if this happens, the US Food and Drug Administration advises they should not to have the second dose.This reaction usually happens within a few minutes to one hour after receiving the jab.Key side effects according to the FDA are:injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling (hardness), fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever.HOW IS THE VACCINE STORED?Unlike the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Moderna vaccine needs more careful storage at very cold levels but it has a better storage profile that the sensitive Pfizer jab.Moderna’s vaccine is stable for six months at temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius. Once thawed, unpunctured phials can be kept at normal fridge temperatures for up to a month.New research shows it could be okay for up to three months in a fridge which is a key advantage over the Pfizer jab, which can only be stored in a fridge for five days.However, once the Moderna phials are punctured they must be used within 30 minutes.The Pfizer shot must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of minus 90 degrees celsius to minus 60 degrees Celsius.Pfizer has to be transported at domestic freezer temperatures of between minus 25 degrees celsius to minus 15 degrees celsius and can be stored at this temperature for up to 2 weeksHowever, once the vials are punctured they must be used within 30 minutes.

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