ATAGI update following weekly COVID-19 meeting – 16 February 2022

An update from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) following their weekly meeting on 16 February 2022.

Date published:
General public

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:

More information can be found on the Department of Health website, with resources for both providers and patients.

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