The federal government will soon begin sending messages through the online portal myGov, urging Australians to get their COVID booster shot.
Starting early next year, myGov users will receive notifications reminding them they are due for a booster shot, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
If users have consented to be contacted by email, they will be notified via their myGov email address.
The federal department of health will also begin a mail campaign, sending letters to about 11 million households across the country encouraging people to book their vaccine booster appointment. The letters are reportedly signed by the prime minister, the health minister and the chief health officer.
Booster shots are not mandatory, but the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) strongly recommends getting booster shots six months after your second dose.
ATAGI says there is evidence the boosters can further reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19. It says there is no need for any changes to vaccine schedules due to the new Omicron variant.
“At this stage, there is no evidence to suggest that earlier booster doses of current COVID-19 vaccines will augment protection against the Omicron variant,” ATAGI says.
“ATAGI will continue to closely monitor the epidemiology and emerging data on the likely impact of vaccination on this variant and update recommendations in the near future.”
So far, almost half a million third doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Australia. By the end of December, 1.75 million people will be eligible for booster doses, by the end of January 4.1 million, by the end of February 7.5 million and by May next wear almost 18 million people in Australia will be eligible for their booster shot.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has also now approved the Pfizer vaccine for five to 11-year-old children, calming fears held by many parents about the new Omicron variant.
“The vaccine dose approved by the TGA for children aged five to 11 is the same safe and effective vaccine used for other age cohorts, however, [it] is one-third the dose approved for those aged 12 and over,” outgoing federal health minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.
“The Pfizer vaccine for five to 11-year-olds will be distributed to vaccine providers in different packaging to the vaccine approved for people 12 and over and will be clearly differentiated by being dispensed from orange-capped vials instead of grey or purple-capped vials.
“As with other age groups, the use of this vaccine in children aged five to 11 years should be given in two doses at least three weeks apart.”
But early indications are that the new COVID variant may be less severe than previous variants such as Delta.
“Preliminary evidence indicates that Omicron may only lead to mild symptoms among most people who contract it,” the health department says.
“Experts around the world are monitoring it closely to see if it is more likely to lead to severe illness compared to earlier variants.”
Have you had a booster shot yet or made a booking for a booster? Are you due to have one soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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