COVID-19 Primary Care alert from the Director of Public Health
This alert updates the 24 January 2023 (No. 138) COVID-19 Update.
ATAGI recommendations on 2023 COVID-19 booster doses
On 8 February 2023, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) provided updated recommendations on eligibility for a further COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, effective from 20 February 2023.
ATAGI recommends a 2023 COVID-19 booster dose for adults in the following groups, if their last COVID-19 vaccine dose or confirmed infection (whichever is the most recent) was 6 months ago or longer, and regardless of the number of previous doses:
- All adults aged 65 years and older
- Adults aged 18 to 64 years who have medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or are living with disability with significant or complex health needs.
The following groups should consider a 2023 booster dose if their last COVID-19 vaccine dose or confirmed infection (whichever is the most recent) was 6 months ago or longer, and regardless of the number of previous doses, based on an individual risk benefit assessment with their immunisation provider.
- All Adults aged 18 to 64 years without risk factors for severe COVID-19
- Children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 years who have medical comorbidities that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or are living with disability with significant or complex health needs.
ATAGI advises that a booster dose is not currently recommended for children and adolescents aged under less than 18 years who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID-19.
All available age-appropriate COVID-19 booster vaccines are expected to boost immunity and increase protection against severe COVID-19. However, bivalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are preferred over other vaccines. These include the Pfizer Bivalent BA.4/5, Pfizer Bivalent BA.1 and Moderna Bivalent BA.1 vaccines.
ATAGI has provided the following recommendations regarding the use of Pfizer bivalent BA.4/5 vaccine:
- The Pfizer bivalent BA.4-5vaccine can be used as an alternative vaccine for booster doses in people aged 12 years or older, in accordance with the latest booster advice. This vaccine is not currently registered for use in children aged younger than 12 years, or as a primary course vaccination.
- An approved alternative COVID-19 vaccine such as Pfizer 5-11 years vaccine, should be used in children aged 5-11 years who require a booster dose.
A COVID-19 booster dose is expected to boost immunity and increase protection against severe illness.
2023 COVID-19 booster doses should be provided by June 2023, and not earlier than 6 months after the most recent COVID-19 vaccine dose or confirmed infection.
COVID-19 vaccine can be co-administered with influenza and other vaccines.
I encourage you to recommend and prioritise a COVID-19 booster doses to all those eligible and at risk of severe COVID-19, including those with risk factors aged 18 and above, and all those aged 65 years and older. I also encourage risk-benefit discussions for those persons for whom ATAGI advises that 2023 booster dose should be considered, including those 18 to 64 years with no risk factors and those 5 to 17 years with identified risks.
The current COVID-19 risk level in Tasmania remains low Managing the current COVID-19 risk | Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
- COVID-19 vaccination clinics available in Tasmania
- The ATAGI advice on the 2023 booster
- The ATAGI recommendations on the use of Pfizer bivalent (Original/Omicron BA.4/5) COVID-19 vaccine
What to do
- Ensure your clinic is set up to reduce risks of transmission by using physical distancing, personal protective equipment, hand hygiene and other measures.
- Encourage those that are eligible for the 2023 booster dose to get vaccinated.
- Screen patients entering your practice for symptoms of COVID-19 or close contact with a COVID-19 case.
- Continue to support all staff and patients to get tested for COVID-19 if they have any cold or flu-like symptoms or loss of smell or taste.
- Make sure that all patients with a positive RAT result are advised to follow current Public Health advice and to register their result on online or by phoning the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.
Thank you for your contributions to the Tasmanian COVID-19 response.
Dr Mark Veitch
Director of Public Health