Travellers receive tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a pre-departure testing facility, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant, outside the international terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
December 11, 2021
By Colin Packham
CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia said on Sunday it will shorten the wait time for people to receive COVID-19 booster vaccines following a rise in cases of the Omicron variant.
Australia had previously said it would offer a COVID-19 booster to everyone over 18 and who had their second dose of the vaccine six months prior.
But with rising cases of the Omicron variant, Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt said the time interval will be shortened to five months after the second dose.
“A booster dose, five or more months after the second dose, will make sure that the protection from the primary course is even stronger and longer lasting and should help prevent spread of the virus,” Hunt said in an emailed statement.
“Data from Israel shows boosters supporting reductions in the rate of infection in eligible age groups, severe disease in those aged over 40 years and deaths in those over 60 years.”
Australia will use both vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna in its booster programme.
Australia is one of the most vaccinated countries, with about 90% of people over 16 fully inoculated.
Still, Australia said on Saturday it found 1,753 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up about 3% in the last week and the highest daily total since Oct. 29.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Chris Reese)