Covid-19 Omicron Australia: Vaccine chiefs discuss a FOURTH jab to be rolled out to every Aussie


Why push for ALL Aussies to get a fourth vaccine is flawed: Jabs will do little to stop new Omicron strains taking over Australia – as doctor pushes for loathed rules to return

  • Vaccine advisory group considers letting all Aussies get a fourth Covid jab
  • Currently fourth jabs are only available to over 65s and people with conditions
  • Meanwhile some states are weighing up bringing back masks in more settings
  • It comes as Sydney GP Kerryn Phelps called for mask mandates to come back 
  • Hospitalisations reached 3,511 across country, the highest levels since February 

All Australians could soon be eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine but leading experts say another dose may not help stop infection from more transmissible subvariants. 

Vaccine advisory body ATAGI will meet on Wednesday to discuss letting all Australians get a fourth jab which is currently only available to over 65s and younger people with health conditions. 

It comes as Sydney GP Kerryn Phelps called for mask mandates and two-week isolation periods to return to stave off the winter Covid wave.  

Existing vaccines don’t work as well at stopping infection from the two subvariants of the Omicron strain – known as BA.4 and BA.5 – that are becoming dominant in Australia.

The strains – identified early this year in South Africa – are more transmissible than the original Omicron strain but have not caused more deaths or severe illness. 

All Australians could soon be eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine and some states could bring back masks as the nation suffers a winter wave of the virus

All Australians could soon be eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine and some states could bring back masks as the nation suffers a winter wave of the virus

Writing in The Conversation on Monday, University of South Australia Professor of Epidemiology Adrian Esterman said existing vaccines are ‘unlikely’ to protect against infection.

‘Although current vaccines based on the Wuhan strain will still provide some protection against serious illness and death against BA.4/5, they are unlikely to provide much, if any, protection against infection or symptomatic disease,’ he said.

Professor Esterman said Moderna’s second-generation vaccine, which is currently in trials, would be much better against the latest subvariants. 

Health Minister Mark Butler said just last month there was no evidence a fourth dose of existing vaccines would actually help. 

‘The benefits of the vaccine for younger people do not warrant the decision that they have a fourth dose made available to them,’ he told reporters in Canberra on June 23.

‘There’s a general acceptance that there’s no evidence right now that the fourth dose is particularly called for for younger people who don’t have compromised immunity.’

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said he was in favour of fourth doses for health workers, telling reporters: ‘For health workers I think there is a strong case – at least that’s what I’m told from those who are on the wards in the hospitals.’

Pictured: A 3D mock-up of the BA.4 variant of the Omicron strain of Covid-19

Pictured: A 3D mock-up of the BA.4 variant of the Omicron strain of Covid-19 

DOCTOR PUSHES FOR COVID MASK MANDATE 

Prominent Sydney doctor Kerryn Phelps has called for two major Covid measures to be re-introduced to stop the spread of the virus.

Dr Phelps told Radio 2GB on Tuesday that mask mandates should be reintroduced and isolation periods should be extended back to 10-14 days.

The isolation period for a Covid patient in NSW is currently seven days.  

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Meanwhile, Queensland considered ‘urging’ people to wear masks – as Covid hospitalisations hit their highest levels since February – and the ACT has not ruled out a dreaded mask mandate. 

Sydney GP and former Wentworth MP Dr Phelps told said simply encouraging masks was not enough.

‘This is about community spirit and protecting other people,’ she told 2GB.

‘The mandate is being discussed because strongly recommending people isn’t working.’ 

Vaccine rollout data shows Australians are less willing to get third and fourth jabs now that lockdowns are over and jab mandates have been largely removed. 

More than 95 per cent have had at least one dose but 70.5 per cent of Aussies have had a third jab.

The figure is even less for fourth jabs which have been taken up by only 58.7 per cent of Aussies over 65.

Experts are warning of a winter wave as people spend more time indoors in close proximity during cold and wet weather. 

There were 26 deaths from Covid recorded on Monday, as the national total death toll passed 10,000 earlier this month.

Hospitalisations have also reached 3,511 across the country, the highest levels since February during the height of the Omicron wave.

Nearly 30,000 infections were reported nationally on Monday alone, with experts warning case numbers will climb even further as winter progresses.  

Some states and territories are weighing up whether to reintroduce mask mandates, as Covid-19 cases spiral across the country.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said talks were ongoing on whether mask rules would return in some settings in the Sunshine State.

Some states are considering encouraging mask-wearing again. Pictured: Sydney commuters

Some states are considering encouraging mask-wearing again. Pictured: Sydney commuters

‘We are not doing a mask mandate, but there are discussions happening about urging people in certain situations to wear masks,’ she said.

‘If anything changes, we will let the public know.’

Meanwhile, ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said a mask mandate was not being ruled out as a suggestion.

However, she indicated that other options were being considered.

‘There is a view that mandatory mask requirements might not be as effective as they have been in the past, partly because those people who are willing to wear masks are already doing so,’ she said.

‘Some of those settings where we’re seeing transmission you wouldn’t be required to wear a mask anyway, so all of those things needs to be balanced as we move through this winter period.’

Victoria’s Health Minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Saturday said she was not considering mask mandates. The NSW government has stayed quiet on the issue.

Despite the rise in cases, border restrictions that were brought in as a result of the pandemic will be enforced for their last day on Tuesday.

Changes to the Biosecurity Act will come into effect on Wednesday, with international arrivals no longer needing to declare their vaccination status to enter the country.

The decision was welcomed by Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Dean Long, who said the move was a critical step for the industry.

‘Removing these last requirements will help reduce delays in airports and make it easier for Australians coming back home,’ he said.

‘With school holidays underway or about to kick off in many states and territories, and a rapidly growing number of Australians keen to escape the Australian winter, the pressure on our airports and airport staff is huge.’

Health Minister Mark Butler (pictured) said just last week there was no evidence a fourth dose would actually help

Health Minister Mark Butler (pictured) said just last week there was no evidence a fourth dose would actually help

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