The Australian Technical Advisory Committee on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended that eligibility for a winter dose of the COVID-19 vaccine be expanded to include people aged 16 to 64 who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness, or disabilities with significant or complex health needs or multiple co-morbidities that increase the risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19 infection.
- The Australian Technical Advisory Committee on Immunisation has recommended that eligibility for a winter dose of the COVID-19 vaccine be expanded to include people aged 16 to 64 who have:
- a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness, or
- disabilities with significant or complex health needs or multiple co-morbidities that increase the risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19 infection.
- The expansion of the winter dose program will take effect in state vaccination centres from Monday 30 May in Victoria.
- This change will help ensure those who are at greater risk of developing severe disease receive the best possible protection.
- Healthy people aged 16 to 64 who do not have a risk factor for severe disease and who have received three doses of COVID-19 vaccine are not recommended to receive a winter dose at this time.
- For more information, see Expanded ATAGI recommendations on winter COVID-19 doses for people at increased risk of severe COVID-19. ‘Table 1’ in the statement includes examples of people who are eligible under the expanded eligibility criteria.
- People aged 16 to 39 years with conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19 may discuss the potential risks and benefits of a winter dose with their doctor. There is a very rare risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA vaccines that is highest in this age group, particularly in males. This cohort may have an increased risk of myocarditis or pericarditis following their winter dose, compared with other population groups (see ATAGI advice on Myocarditis and Pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccines).
Groups already eligible for a winter dose
- The groups already eligible for a winter dose are:
- adults aged 65 years and older
- residents of aged care or disability care facilities
- people aged 16 years and older who are severely immunocompromised (as defined in the ATAGI statement on the use of a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised)
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.
Interval times for a winter dose
- Eligible people can receive their winter dose from four months after receiving their third dose, or from three months after a confirmed COVID-19, if infection has occurred since the person’s third dose.
Recommended vaccines for a winter dose
- Pfizer and Moderna are the preferred vaccines for winter doses.
- AstraZeneca can be used if an mRNA vaccine (such as Pfizer or Moderna) is contraindicated.
Arranging a winter dose
- People can arrange their winter dose through their doctor or local pharmacy, or through the Vaccine Clinic Finder.
- Winter doses also are available from all state-run vaccination centres. People can book a winter dose through the online portal or call centre on 1800 675 398.
- Some groups are eligible to have their winter dose at home. For more information, visit the COVID-19 vaccination at home page.
- Health services should only provide winter doses to people who are eligible according to the ATAGI guidelines. No specific proof of eligibility is required – people can verbally attest that they are eligible.