When the Covid-19 booster injection distribution begins next week, fewer than 5% of Australians who are eligible to receive the fourth dose will be able to receive it, according to the Australian Government.
The second Covid-19 booster will be available to older and more vulnerable Australians starting on Monday, in preparation for a forecast spike in infections over the forthcoming winter season.
The groups will include persons over the age of 65, Indigenous Australians over the age of 50, people in elderly and disability care, and people who are immunocompromised.
While it is estimated that 4.7 million people will be able to receive the fourth dose, health professionals testified at a Senate hearing in Australia that less than 200,000 of those will be eligible at the start of the program’s implementation.
People can receive their fourth booster dose four months after receiving their first booster dose.
One health official testified at the meeting that the number of persons who would be eligible in the early phases would be “very limited,” with the majority of people being able to acquire theirs in May and June.
Dr Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Department of Health, said it was vital to assist at-risk Australians ahead of the winter season, when there is projected to be a combined rise in flu and coronavirus cases.
People with underlying medical conditions, people with disabilities, and those at risk of severe Covid should get as much vaccination – including full booster protection – as possible, he said on Friday. “The single most important thing that we can do is get as much vaccination – including full booster protection – as possible,” he added.
In the end, “that’s the one thing we’ll do above and beyond anything else that we can to make a difference.”
Teena Blewitt, the Deputy Coordinator General, stated at the hearing that guidelines had been sent to aged care facilities earlier in the week if they desired the assistance of a Commonwealth vaccine administrator in the new deployment of the vaccination.
The deployment comes at a time when Australia is facing an increase in instances of Covid-19, which has been linked to a novel sub-variant of the Omicron virus.
Several countries, according to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, are anticipated to experience a peak in the number of cases connected with the rise in the middle of April.
The committee, which is comprised of chief health officers from around the country, said it was examining whether or not to propose that quarantine be lifted for people who had been in close contact with Covid-19 cases.
As stated in a statement, the committee stated that quarantine could be replaced by other measures after the peak has been reached.
According to the advice, quarantine might be replaced by frequent quick antigen testing, mask-wearing outside the home, and restricting close contacts’ access to high-risk environments.
“A quarantine period of seven days remains suitable at this time,” according to the committee’s recommendations.
Removal of quarantine at this time may result in increased caseloads and reduced ability for the health care system to provide some acute and elective services, according to the report.
More than 64,000 new illnesses and 16 new deaths were reported across Australia on Friday, according to the latest available data.