Australia’s former chief medical officer is questioning the advice of the country’s immunisation authority on booster shots for those who have already had COVID.
Advice from health experts and governments regarding the need for a third dose of a COVID vaccine, and when it should be administered, is becoming confusing and unhelpful, says Dr Nick Coatsworth.
The current advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on booster shots is that a third dose is needed three months after the second dose.
For people who have already contracted COVID-19, this booster can be delayed by up to four months beyond that, but ATAGI advises they are eligible as soon as they are free of COVID symptoms.
Dr Coatsworth told the Today program that ATAGI was being overly cautious in its approach to those who had already had the virus.
“Look, it [how long to wait for a booster] is a really good question. I don’t even think ATAGI has got solid advice on this,” he said.
“You will get immunity for a period after acquiring a COVID-19 infection, so you certainly don’t need your booster straight away.
“I don’t think there’s any harm in getting it in about four to five weeks afterward, but I think the current recommendation is somewhere in the order of three to six months, but we’d have to get that information perfectly for you.”
For now, people are considered fully vaccinated if they have had two shots of a COVID vaccine, but state governments are pushing for the definition to be extended to three doses.
New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet and his Victorian counterpart Daniel Andrews both support a move to mandate three doses.
“We’re waiting on advice federally in respect of whether or not it would be deemed that three doses would equal a determination of being fully vaccinated,” Mr Perrottet said.
“In the interim, I mean, we can’t say it enough – get boosted. We would say that in order to be up to date with your vaccination, you need to have three doses.”
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall also indicated a third dose would be mandated in the state. Currently, people with a disability and those working in the health and aged care sectors are the only ones required to get a third dose in SA.
The Northern Territory has also made booster shots compulsory for those working in public-facing roles and has introduced a 11 March deadline for the jab.
The vaccine confusion comes as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed that it is still receiving thousands of complaints each week about price-gouging in relation to rapid antigen tests (RATs).
ACCC chairman Rod Sims says the watchdog has referred a number of businesses to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for illegal package splitting and reselling.
“We are looking at reports of single tests being sold for $30 or more from certain stores,” Mr Sims says.
“For example, we have received many reports of high prices at a number of individual IGA Supermarkets and BP-branded petrol stations. However, I want to emphasise these complaints are limited to a small number of individual stores in these chains and that the majority of stores in those chains have not been the subject of complaints to us.”
Have you able to locate RATs for a reasonable price? Should a booster be mandated across the country? Let us know in the comments section below.
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