Aussies not getting fourth Covid jab

Almost four million Australians aged 16 and over (3,935,669) have had four doses of the Covid vaccine, according to data released on Friday by the Australian Government’s Operation Covid Shield.Of these, 1,266,896 are from NSW, followed by Victoria (965,311), Queensland (773,287), Western Australia (394,671), South Australia (314,568), Tasmania (105,596), ACT (77,996) and Northern Territory (17,417).Nationally, 78.5 per cent of eligible aged care residents have received four or more doses (103,896 of 132,407), the data shows.General practitioners remain the leading primary care vaccine administration site (5691), followed by pharmacies (3617), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (178) and Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics (123). Minority groups remain under-represented in the data on Australians who have had four doses of the Covid vaccine. Just 25 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are eligible for a fourth dose have had one. Individuals with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds fare a little better. Among those who speak a language other than English, 67.5 per cent of eligible people have had three or more doses, along with 71.6 per cent of people born overseas and 70.7 per cent of the general CALD population.National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants also have some catching up to do – 26 per cent of eligible people aged 16 or over have had a fourth dose. Last month, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) updated its recommendations for a winter dose of Covid vaccine to help reduce severe disease from the emerging surge of Omicron BA. 4 and BA. 5 subvariant infections, and to reduce the burden on Australian hospitals and the healthcare system in coming months.The updated recommendations are:•Adults aged 50 to 64 years are now recommended to receive a winter booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.•Adults aged 30 to 49 years can receive a winter booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, however the benefit for people in this age group is less certain.•The interval recommended between a recent SARS-CoV-2 infection or the first booster dose and a winter booster dose is now 3 months.“ATAGI emphasises that people previously eligible for a winter booster dose remain at higher risk of severe disease and death from Covid-19 and should receive a winter booster dose as soon as possible,” the group said in a statement.This includes all adults aged 65 years or older; residents of aged care or disability care facilities; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older, people who are severely immunocompromised (this will be their fifth dose); people aged 16 years or older with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe Covid-19 illness; and people aged 16 years or older with disability, significant or complex health needs, or multiple comorbidities which increase the risk of a poor outcome.“ATAGI emphasises that individuals who have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2, irrespective of which variant it may have been, should continue to receive recommended vaccine doses, after an interval of 3 months, as prior infection alone will not provide sufficient protection against severe disease,” the group’s statement said.“The number of people ill from respiratory virus infections, including from Covid-19, has increased over the past few months, placing an increased strain on the Australian healthcare system, particularly hospitals.“A surge in cases of Covid-19 from the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA. 4 and BA. 5 subvariants is a contributing factor and is expected to worsen in the coming months. Increasing the uptake of winter booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine in populations most at risk during this time is anticipated to play a limited, but important role in reducing the risk from Covid-19 to individuals and pressure on the healthcare system.”

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