ATAGI update following COVID-19 meeting – 7 September 2022
An update from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) following their meeting on 7 September 2022. ATAGI are now meeting every fortnight on COVID-19 related issues.
Latest recommendation updates
Updates have been made to the ATAGI clinical guidance to reflect recommendations for Moderna primary course in children aged 6 months to under 5 years, and Novavax primary course in adolescents 12 to 17 years.
Recent meeting deliberations can be found on the ATAGI page.
Recent ATAGI considerations
On Wednesday 7 September, ATAGI met to consider the latest developments relating to COVID-19 immunisation. As of 6 September, over 63 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Australia.
Moderna bivalent variant vaccine
Following from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisional approval for the Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax Bivalent Zero/Omicron (Moderna bivalent booster) on 29 August 2022, ATAGI have recommended that the Moderna bivalent booster can be used in people aged 18 years and older for the first or second booster dose (i.e. the third or fourth dose for most people), according to the current ATAGI recommendations for booster doses.
The booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be given at least 3 months after the most recent COVID-19 vaccine dose or previous SARS-CoV-2 infection.
While booster vaccination with a variant-containing vaccine may not necessarily 'match' the circulating variant, it is anticipated to induce a broad immune response to current SARS-CoV-2 variants.
ATAGI considers receiving all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses to be a more important factor in obtaining optimal protection against severe COVID-19 than which variant is contained within the dose. ATAGI continue to emphasise the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccinations recommended for your age or individual health needs.
In the coming weeks, patients will be able to access the Moderna bivalent booster as an option, along with the other registered COVID-19 vaccines. The Moderna bivalent booster and original COVID-19 vaccines (various brands) will continue to be available in the near future. Eligible individuals can receive whichever COVID-19 booster vaccine is available to them.
ATAGI recommends that any person who has not yet received a first or recommended second COVID-19 booster dose, arrange to receive their booster soon, using either the Moderna bivalent booster or an alternative original vaccine.
For more information on booster doses, visit www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-your-vaccination/booster-doses#booster-doses
Pfizer 6 months to under 5 years COVID-19 vaccine
On 30 June 2022 TGA granted provisional determination to Pfizer in relation to its COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) for use in individuals 6 months to under 5 years. Currently, the only COVID-19 vaccine provisionally approved in this age group is the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
ATAGI has considered evidence in relation to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in this age group including immunogenicity, safety and reactogenicity, and disease burden in this age group. This week ATAGI discussed its use as an alternative to the Moderna vaccine in this age group.
If registered by the TGA ATAGI will make recommendations on its use in this age group.
Pfizer 5-to-11-year COVID-19 booster doses
ATAGI also considered evidence in relation to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as a booster in the 5-to-11-year age cohort including disease burden, durability of protection against infection and severe disease, immunogenicity, safety, and international recommendations.
Currently, there is no recommendation for children 5 to 11 years to receive booster vaccinations. If the booster dose is registered by the TGA, ATAGI will make recommendations on its use in this age group.
Children aged 5 to 11 years are currently recommended to have a primary course (2 doses for most people) of a COVID-19 vaccine.
ATAGI COVID-19 meetings
The ATAGI COVID-19 Working Group meetings will reduce in frequency to fortnightly, and the Weekly Updates will in future be published on an as-needed basis. To stay up to date with COVID-19 announcements, visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website.
Ongoing review of COVID-19 vaccine safety
The TGA Fortnightly Report provides a detailed breakdown of adverse events following immunisation, including Australian rates of myocarditis and pericarditis.
Resources and recent statements
More information can be found in the following resources:
- 12 September 2022: ATAGI statement on use of the Moderna bivalent Original/Omicron vaccine
- Recent updates: ATAGI Clinical guidance on the use of COVID-19 vaccines
- 25 August 2022: Novavax vaccine for adolescents aged 12-17 years
- 7 July 2022: ATAGI updated recommendations for a winter dose of COVID-19 vaccine | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
- 9 June 2022 – on the use of a first booster dose in adolescents aged 12-15 years
- 25 May 2022 – expanded ATAGI recommendations on winter COVID-19 booster doses for people at increased risk of severe COVID-19
- 8 April 2022 – on use of booster doses in adolescents aged 12-15 years