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How Covid-19 vaccination booster shots will be KEY to our future freedom

Australians are set to receive Covid-19 vaccine booster shots a year after their second doses despite reports immunity from the Pfizer vaccine declines well before 12 months.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation does not currently recommend booster shots but ministers are expecting this advice to change and have ordered millions of extra doses.

In the face of an ‘alarming’ fourth wave of the Delta variant, Israel has already started offering third Pfizer shots to people over 60, and will soon include over 50s. 

The US will also roll out booster shots from September 20 after its top doctors warned waning immunity would lead to ‘reduced protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death’. 

It comes as Scott Morrison announced Pfizer would soon be rolled out to those aged 16 – 39, with young Australians able to start booking appointments within a week – though slots for the jab are already booked out at many centres until October at the earliest. 

Half a million Pfizer jabs have been offered to young people in south west Sydney

Young Australians wait in line for a Pfizer jab at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney on Thursday

Australian Defence Force personnel assist people as they check into the Qudos Bank Arena vaccination centre in Sydney

Australian Defence Force personnel assist people as they check into the Qudos Bank Arena vaccination centre in Sydney

Overseas data shows Pfizer’s effectiveness against the Delta strain wanes over time – but the extent of the decline varies due to the ‘immense’ challenge of making accurate estimates.

However, the latest data from Israel, which has vaccinated 78 per cent of its population with Pfizer, shows that a third dose is 86 per cent effective at stopping infection in people aged over 60. 

The study compared results from 149,144 people aged over 60 who received their third dose at least a week ago against 675,630 who had received only two doses between January and February.

Some 37 people tested positive for coronavirus after their third jab, compared with 1,064 positive cases among those who had received only two doses. The comparison groups had similar demographic profiles, Israel’s Maccabi Health Maintenance Organisation said.

Data from Israel’s health ministry also showed that the Pfizer vaccine protected 64 per cent of those immunised against the Delta strain between June 6 and early July, down from an earlier 94 per cent.

In the face of an 'alarming' fourth wave of the Delta variant, Israel has already started offering third Pfizer shots to people over 60, and will soon include over 50s

In the face of an ‘alarming’ fourth wave of the Delta variant, Israel has already started offering third Pfizer shots to people over 60, and will soon include over 50s

Israel’s government has conceded that Pfizer’s vaccine appears to be less effective in stopping the spread of the Delta strain but is continuing to shield against severe illness.   

Reality has proven it – the vaccines are safe – they are proven to protect against serious illness and death,’ Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said this week.

‘As with the flu vaccine, which needs to be re-administered from time to time, so too is the case here.’ 

Pfizer CEO Albert Boula confirmed in July that the effectiveness of the vaccine does steadily diminish, but said it reaches about 84 per cent effectiveness at six months.

His comments were based on a company-funded study of 44,000 people across the United States and other countries which found effectiveness of the vaccine eroded an average of six per cent every two months.

‘The good news is that we are very, very confident that a third dose, a booster, will take up the immune response to levels that will be enough to protect against the Delta variant,’ Mr Bourla told CNBC on July 28.

He added it was not uncommon for vaccines to decline in effectiveness and that third-dose vaccines were already used against other diseases.   

In the likely event that booster shots are recommended in Australia – where 28.2 per cent are fully vaccinated so far – the Prime Minister has ordered 85 million doses of Pfizer to arrive in 2022 and 2023.

The first batch will enter the country in the first three months of next year, allowing the first vaccinated Australians – who had their second doses in March 2021 – to take a booster shot a year later. 

HOW LONG DO THE VACCINES LAST? 

Pfizer

Pfizer CEO Albert Boula confirmed in July that the effectiveness of the vaccine does steadily diminish, but said it reaches about 84 per cent effectiveness at six months.

The jab is most effective between one week and two months after the second dose, and drops by an average of 6 per cent every two months. 

Moderna 

Meanwhile, studies of the Moderna vaccine show 94 per cent effectiveness six months after the second dose.

AstraZeneca 

Studies on AstraZeneca indicate that a single dose induced immunity for at least one year, with an even stronger immune response after either a late second dose or a third dose.

A delay of up to 45 weeks between the first and second jab was found to produce a very strong response, or a third jab after six months. 

Source: AstraZeneca, Gavi Vaccine Alliance, The Lancet

The booster shot is expected to work on top of two doses of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer.

The Government has also ordered 51 million doses of the American Novavax vaccine – which is expected to be approved and rolled out in the second half of this year – and 15 million doses of booster or variant-specific versions of the Moderna vaccine.

Both could act as booster shots. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt told 2GB radio last week: ‘The supplies are very deep and strong. The expectation is that if a booster were required – and frankly, it’s far more likely than not on all the advice we have – it would be about a year after you had your vaccination.

‘So, no decision yet, but the preliminary medical advice is that it will be in the order of 12 months after your first jab. But it’s not a final decision.’

Emirates flight EK414 arrives at Kingsford Smith International Airport from Dubai with its cargo of one million Pfizer vaccines from Poland on August 15

Emirates flight EK414 arrives at Kingsford Smith International Airport from Dubai with its cargo of one million Pfizer vaccines from Poland on August 15

Health department’s full statement on booster shots 

‘The Government has accepted the medical advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) that additional or booster doses beyond the two-dose course are not currently recommended. 

‘The Government is actively monitoring this evidence and has strong working relationships with a wide range of international agencies to discuss the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

‘Australia is well prepared for booster vaccines if they are required. This has been taken into account in the purchase agreements already in place.

‘The Australian Government has secured 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for 2022 and 25 million doses for 2023. This is in addition to the 40 million Pfizer doses being delivered in 2021.

‘The Government has also secured 25 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, including 15 million doses of booster or variant-specific versions of the vaccine.

‘The Government also has an Advance Purchased Agreement with Novavax for 51 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine. The Novavax protein-subunit based COVID-19 vaccine could be used as a booster dose.’ 

Health experts around Australia have said booster shots will be needed. 

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely expects the third shots to roll out at early next year.

‘Let’s think ahead a bit more. We want to get everybody fully dosed, or as many people as possible with AstraZeneca or Pfizer,’ he told 3AW radio on Monday.

‘But then we are going to need to boost. This Delta virus is really quite something. We are going to want to boost first of all those people who have had AstraZeneca and top them up with mRNA, and we are also going to want to vaccinate the children.

‘Those two things would be happening, I hope, early next year so we are in good shape then for opening up to the rest of the world somewhere around March or Easter next year.’

When Mr Morrison announced his deal to buy 85million Pfizer booster shots last month, he said: ‘Every Australian will have access to a booster shot if it is needed.’

‘This will ensure individuals, families and communities have certainty about their continued protection against the evolving threat of Covid-19 over the next two years. 

‘We have turned the corner in Australia’s vaccine program and this is another milestone on our pathway back to a normal life.’ 

The Labor Opposition says the American decision to roll out booster shots shows how far Australia is behind other Western nations in its vaccine program.

Leader Anthony Albanese said on Thursday: ‘President Biden in the United States today has announced booster shots from next month. So a third shot for Americans will be rolled out from September. Here we are still struggling to get to half of Australians having their first shot. ‘

Health spokesman Mark Butler similarly showed little confidence in Mr Morrison’s ability to roll out timely booster shots.

‘With Scott Morrison’s vaccine rollout it’s always too little too late,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.  

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘Australia is well prepared for booster vaccines if they are required.’

When Mr Morrison (pictured) announced his deal to buy 85million Pfizer booster shots last month, he said: 'Every Australian will have access to a booster shot if it is needed'

When Mr Morrison (pictured) announced his deal to buy 85million Pfizer booster shots last month, he said: ‘Every Australian will have access to a booster shot if it is needed’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk