COVID vaccines targeting the latest common variants of the virus will be made available to Australians from next month.
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the government had approved the monovalent vaccines, which target Omicron variants, after taking advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
The shots would help protect Australians against current strains of the virus and demonstrated the federal government’s ongoing commitment to providing the latest and most effective vaccines, Butler said.
“While we are no longer in the emergency phase of this pandemic, COVID-19 is still present, and people should continue to follow the advice of the experts from ATAGI, including getting vaccines as required,” he said.
However, authorities say only about a quarter of vulnerable Australians have had their 2023 booster shots as cases surge across the country.
With more than 800,000 COVID notifications already this year, hospitalisations have dropped from more than 400 in January. But they are again on the rise, with about 160 people in care at the start of November.
Butler said the latest XBB 1.5 vaccines had been found to provide modest improved protection against strains circulating in the community.
People who have already had their 2023 vaccination(s) don’t need to get jabbed again and remain well protected against severe disease.
Pfizer’s monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccine will be available for use in eligible Australians five years and older. The Moderna monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccine can be used for those aged 12 and older.