As Australia reaches its vaccine targets and COVID-19 shows no signs of going away, it’s time to think about booster shots. The booster situation is changing quickly and many Aussies are already able to book in and get the third jab.
Here’s what we know about the state of affairs with booster shots in Australia right now.
Who can get a booster shot?
Booster doses are available and recommended for every Australian over 18 years of age who has had both doses of their primary COVID-19 vaccine. Under 18s are not presently being recommended for booster shots by ATAGI.
The Department of Health originally recommended the gap between the second dose and booster shot should be at least six months. However, emerging research indicates that protection against the Omicron variant declines after 6 months so the gap between doses was initially shortened to at least 4 months and on January 31, it was announced this would be reduced again to 3 months.
To figure out whether you’re due for a booster shot you can find the date of your second vaccine dose on your COVID-19 digital certificate.
Those who are severely immunocompromised are encouraged to receive a third primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine after a minimum of two months after their second dose. They, along with pregnant people, are also recommended to receive a booster dose according to the same rules as the general population, which is currently after 3 months.
Which boosters are available?
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved both the Pfizer Comirnarty vaccine and Moderna Spikevax vaccine for use as booster shots in Australia.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has said that both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are considered equally acceptable as booster vaccines. This means you can receive either vaccine as a booster shot regardless of which vaccine you received initially.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved by the TGA as a booster. However, ATAGI said both the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna shots are preferable as boosters even for those who had an initial course of AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca can be given as a booster jab for those who have contraindications to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The newly-approved Novavax vaccine has also not been greenlit as a booster option.
How can you book an appointment?
Similar to the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia, booster shots are available to be booked online and can be given by your local GP, pharmacy or health clinic, where available.
You can find use the vaccine clinic finder to book a slot and find a place near you to get a booster.
A reminder that COVID-19 vaccines are free and it’s hugely important to stay on top of your booster appointments or to book in for an initial course of jabs if you haven’t already.
How do you show proof of your booster shot?
After you’ve received your booster jab you’ll see it appear on your immunisation record which is linked to MyGov and Medicare.
Instead of three doses appearing on your vaccine certificate you’ll only see the two most recent doses, ie. your second jab and the booster dose. You’ll still be considered fully vaccinated and the ‘valid from’ date will change on your certificate to reflect the date of the booster.
Services Australia says you’ll need to re-download an updated vaccine certificate after your booster if you had previously saved it offline, to your device’s digital wallet or shared it with a state check-in app.
This article has been updated with additional information on COVID-19 booster shots.