State and Territory leaders have been given approval to change the definition of “fully vaccinated” against Covid-19, Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has announced to National Cabinet.
In the National Cabinet meeting on Thursday, February 10, advice from ATAGI was presented, which laid out some simple standards and terminology that will be used from here on in, surrounding vaccination against Covid-19. This advice outlined that, the definition for fully vaccinated will be changed to mean two initial doses, followed by a booster.
However, whilst the third dose is recommended, it will not be mandated, instead, a person who has received their initial two vaccinations will be considered ‘overdue’ for their booster, if they do not receive their booster shot within six months of their second dose.
ATAGI has outlined that the booster will not be mandated across any workplace except aged care, which is currently heavily impacted by outbreaks across the country.
This new change comes as National Cabinet, and all Premiers of Australians states, except Mark McGowan, the Western Australian Premier, agree to move into Phase D of reopening the country – as laid out in a plan set in motion in August 2021.
However, states have the autonomy to mandate the third dose in settings controlled by the state governments, like hospitals. The Australian Financial Review has speculated that this may lead to “a mishmash of definitions across the country in certain sectors”.
ATAGI officially recommended that any states or territories looking to implement this advice wait until at least March, to allow the majority of Australians time to get boosted if they choose to.
Also outlined in the ATAGI advice is information surrounding when to get a booster after having Covid-19. The advice reads:
“Individuals who have had prior COVID-19, including asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, still require completion of the above vaccination schedule but can defer receipt of the next dose for up to 4 months following their infection.
“This recommendation has changed from the previous 6-month interval. Some people may choose to be vaccinated prior to 4 months. Refer to ATAGI clinical guidance on people with past SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
Additionally, the advice includes information surrounding the usage of same or different brand vaccinations for a booster. The advice states:
“Vaccine schedules using mixed or the same brand of COVID-19 vaccine are acceptable for being considered up-to-date. The TGA is currently considering which vaccines, not already approved for use in Australia as a booster, will be recognised as valid by the Australia Immunisation Register, as a booster dose (e.g., if received overseas).”
Another key point discussed at National Cabinet was the resumption of the cruise industry. In the official National Cabinet statement from Thursday’s meeting, it is outlined that there is a shared responsibility between the Commonwealth, and the states and territories to get cruises back cruising in Australian waters. National Cabinet has agreed to resume cruises, after the Commonwealth agreed to lift bio-security laws which prevented Australian cruising, saying “The Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland agreed to work with the industry to implement new protocols to enable the resumption of cruising over coming months.”