Date published: 
8 October 2021
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

From next week Australians who are severely immunocompromised will be offered the option to receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to boost their protection against COVID-19 to the highest level.

This follows advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and other leading vaccination and health experts.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said research showed that some people who are severely immunocompromised may need a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to maximise protection.

“Australians who are severely immunocompromised may have a decreased immune response to a COVID-19 vaccination and be more at risk from severe COVID-19. An additional booster dose for this specific cohort will ensure they continue to be protected,” Minister Hunt said.

“If you or someone in your family is severely immunocompromised, we encourage you to reach out to your GP or specialist to discuss whether an additional dose is required.”

It is expected that up to approximately 500,000 people are severely immunocompromised in Australia and may need a third dose of vaccine over the coming months. This includes people who are being actively treated for cancer, organ failure, or being treated with a range of immunosuppressive or biologic therapies.

The recommended interval for the third dose is two to six months after their second dose of vaccine. ATAGI’s advice is that an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) is the preferred option for a third dose.

Importantly, Australians who are mildly to moderately immunocompromised are not currently being recommended by ATAGI to have a third dose at this stage.

While vaccines are our best defence against COVID-19, Australians are reminded to continue implementing other safety measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. Physical distancing, hand washing, wearing a face mask, and following other public health measures continue to be important for public safety.

The Government expects to receive advice from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and ATAGI within the coming weeks about the administration of booster doses for the general population. Advice on booster doses will be made public as soon as possible.

With over 151 million Pfizer, Novavax and Moderna vaccines already secured for supply into the future, Australia is well prepared to provide booster doses if they are recommended by the medical experts.

In October, there are sufficient doses available to offer every Australian a first or second dose vaccination. Around two million vaccinations are now being administered each week in Australia. To date, nearly 82 per cent of the population over the age of 16 has received one vaccine dose, and more than 60 per cent are fully vaccinated.

To book a COVID-19 vaccination today, visit https://www.australia.gov.au/

This recommendation from ATAGI applies to all individuals aged ≥12 years who are severely immunocompromised, as defined in the statement from ATAGI which can be found on the Department of Health Website.

Ministers: