Older Australians may need to start receiving COVID booster shots from early next year as evidence mounts that immunity from the virus starts to decrease after six months.
Studies from Israel have shown COVID vaccine effectiveness drops by around 15 per cent after six months for those aged over 60, The Guardian reports. Israel is currently using a two-dose mRNA-based vaccine and has already begun administering booster shots to this demographic.
But some experts are disputing the evidence, saying the data acquired so far is still inconclusive as to whether a booster shot is needed so soon after initial vaccination.
“It’s still a bit undetermined when boosters will be required,” Helen Marshall, associate professor in vaccinology at Adelaide Medical School, told The Australian.
“The data on immunity is looking good certainly out to six months and likely out to a year at this stage. That information is still accumulating [but] I think we can be reasonably confident about the length of protection six to 12 months after vaccination.”
In other news, the federal government has ordered 15 million doses of Moderna’s variant-specific booster vaccine, which is expected to arrive in early 2022.
This is on top of the 10 million doses of the current Moderna vaccine, which the federal government expects will be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in coming days and will begin arriving in September.
The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA-based vaccine similar to Pfizer. Where it differs is in the dosage, with the Moderna doses containing 100 micrograms of the vaccine and the Pfizer 30 micrograms. The Moderna shots are to be spaced four weeks apart while the Pfizer needs only three weeks.
In addition to Moderna, Australia has ordered an extra 85 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to accommodate booster shots, and will also likely use the 50 million doses of Novavax that have been bought as boosters.
But health officials have criticised the idea, pleading with nations planning to begin delivering boosters immediately to delay their rollouts until all countries have had a chance to mass-inoculate their populations.
“Hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for their first dose, some rich countries are moving towards booster doses,” World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media statement last week.
“So far, more than four billion vaccine doses have been administered globally. More than 80 per cent have gone to high and upper-middle income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world’s population.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using more of it.”
Are you fully vaccinated? Would you be keen to get a booster before the rest of the nation is vaccinated? Let us know in the comments section below.
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