Latest recommendation updates
- In addition to polymerase chain reaction (PCR), rapid antigen tests (RATs) (reported to the relevant jurisdictional system) are now acceptable proof of prior infection for the purposes of temporary medical exemptions.
Recent ATAGI considerations
On Wednesday 16 February 2022, ATAGI met to consider the latest developments relating to COVID-19 immunisation. As of 15 February 2022, over 52 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Australia. ATAGI encourages anyone aged 16 years and over to receive a booster dose as soon as they are eligible.
Moderna for children aged 6 to 11 years
ATAGI notes the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved Spikevax (Moderna) for use in children aged 6-11 years. ATAGI is currently considering the efficacy and safety data for Moderna in this age group and will be releasing recommendations soon.
Novavax use as a booster
Currently, Nuvaxovid (the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine) is registered by the TGA and recommended by ATAGI as use as a primary course vaccine only. Novavax is not yet registered or recommended for use as a booster. ATAGI is considering the available evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of Novavax as use as a booster and will update its advice in the coming weeks.
Children’s vaccine dose interval
ATAGI has made recommendations that children aged 5-11 should receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines doses 8 weeks apart. It is appropriate to consider shortening the interval in special circumstances to a minimum of 3 weeks, including for those at high risk of severe COVID. ATAGI has now updated its advice to include all NDIS participants on the list of underlying medical conditions at higher risk of severe COVID-19 to align with previous advice for adolescents aged 12-15 years.
Parents and providers are encouraged to weigh up the benefits of earlier protection with the benefit of having a longer dose interval. A dose interval of 8 weeks may improve protection and longevity of protection from the vaccine. A longer interval may also reduce the risk of rare adverse events such as myocarditis.
Upcoming ATAGI considerations
ATAGI is continuing to monitor evidence on the long-term effectiveness of vaccine boosters and national vaccination coverage rates.
COVID-19 vaccine safety
The TGA Weekly Report provides a detailed breakdown of adverse events following immunisation.
Resources and recent statements
ATAGI recommends review of the following key resources:
- 18 February 2022: ATAGI guidance on temporary medical exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines.
- 3 February 2022: ATAGI Statement on booster doses for adolescents 16 to 17 years
- 24 January 2022: ATAGI statement on the use of Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.
- 19 January 2022: Updated ATAGI recommendations on the use of a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised .
- Clinical Guidance for COVID-19 vaccination providers (new look web version of the clinical guidance).
- 24 December 2021: ATAGI Statement on the Omicron variant of concern and the timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination.
- 10 December 2021: ATAGI recommendations on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine use in children aged 5 to 11 years.