CANBERRA, Australia: Despite the start of a new COVID-19 surge, Australian health authorities have recommended against the public receiving a fifth COVID-19 vaccine shot, but they have urged those eligible to sign up for their remaining booster doses.
During a press conference this week, Health Minister Mark Butler said new cases of Covid infections were 47 percent higher last week than one week earlier, but cases remain 85 percent below the previous peak in late July.
Citing reports about Singapore's recent wave, which showed that severe illness and death were rare among vaccinated people, and that a fifth shot had minimal impact on virus transmissions, Butler said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunizations (ATAGI) had recommended against a fifth dose, or third booster.
"ATAGI has considered international evidence, as well as the local data around vaccination numbers, as well as case numbers in the pandemic, and decided not to recommend a fifth dose," said Butler.
"They noted that severe disease and death during that wave in Singapore was very rare for people who had at least two doses of vaccine for COVID-19," he added.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly also said the Singaporean experience showed that the current wave would likely peak soon, and cases would drop quickly afterwards.
New booster recommendations will be made early next year, ahead of the southern-hemisphere winter.