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New COVID-19 vaccines to be ‘preferred’ option


Jolyon Attwooll


21/11/2023 3:14:20 PM

The vaccines, which target the XBB.1.5 Omicron variant, were approved by the TGA and will be available in Australia from next month.

COVID vaccine
The new vaccines, which target a later Omicron-related strain of the virus, are now being used in several countries. (Image: AAP Photos)

Newly approved COVID-19 vaccinations will be available for use from mid-December, Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said on Monday.
 
The two vaccines, one produced by Pfizer and the other by Moderna, target the XBB.1.5 Omicron variant strain of the virus.
 
Both monovalent XBB 1.5 vaccines were approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in October and awaiting a recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), which was released this week.
 
The vaccines have already been approved in several other countries.
 
The ATAGI advice states that all currently available COVID-19 vaccines ‘provide benefit to eligible people’.
 
However, their statement indicates that the monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccines are now ‘preferred’ over other options, both for primary and additional doses.
 
‘The new XBB 1.5 vaccines have been found to provide modest improved protection against the COVID-19 strains circulating in the community,’ Minister Butler’s announcement also notes.
 
Both vaccines are approved for use in those aged over 12, while a separate Pfizer formulation will also be available for children aged five–12.
 
According to Minister Butler’s office, places providing COVID-19 vaccination can now order the new vaccines, with the first deliveries expected around 11 December.
 
‘Sites that receive their orders earlier than this date can commence administration as soon as they receive them,’ the announcement stated.
 
The ATAGI statement also notes a recent increase in COVID-19 cases across Australia.
 
‘ATAGI encourages all people who have not yet had their recommended 2023 dose/s to receive them as soon as possible,’ the advisory group stated. 
 
It says the efficacy and safety of the XBB.1.5-containing vaccines ‘have been largely inferred’ from earlier formulations, and that it has no additional safety concerns about the vaccines.
 
In September, ATAGI recommended that all adults over the age of 75 receive an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose if at least six months have passed since their previous dose.
 
For people who have already had their 2023 vaccines, ATAGI does not recommend any extra doses with the XBB.1.5-containing formula.
 
The advisory group said it will give further COVID-19 vaccination advice early in 2024.
 
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COVID-19 Moderna monovalent Pfizer vaccination


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newsGP weekly poll Which public health issue will most significantly impact general practice in Australia in the next 10–20 years?

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