NSW residents “all have a responsibility” to get a booster shot if they “want to remain in work” and avoid another lockdown, the government says.
NSW residents “all have a responsibility” to get a booster shot if they “want to remain in work” and avoid another lockdown, Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres says.
Booster shots, which are now being offered to all adults six months after their second dose, are not currently mandatory to be considered “fully vaccinated” against Covid-19.
But Mr Ayres on Wednesday said that if people wanted the state to remain open, booster shots would be essential.
“We all have a responsibility to get our booster shot,” he told a press conference.
“If you want to remain in work, if you want your favourite cafe or your favourite restaurant or your favourite pub to stay open, then you need to get your booster shot.”
NSW was released from more than 100 days of lockdown last month but many restrictions remain in place, and unvaccinated people will be all but locked out of society until the state reaches 95 per cent its population fully vaccinated.
Many employers now have mandatory vaccination policies and people must show vaccine passports to access basic freedoms such as “non-critical retail”, indoor dining, pubs and gyms.
“So look at your little green certificate – your vaccination date is up there in the top right hand corner, mark your calendar six months from that date and go and get your booster shot,” Mr Ayres said.
“There is simply nothing more important you can do to bed in all the important work we’ve done than getting your third dose. If you do that, you give us the absolute best chance to fight off this insidious virus so we never see it again.”
Pfizer will be used for boosters regardless of the Covid-19 vaccine received for the first or second dose.
It comes after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last month hinted boosters would be required to maintain fully vaccinated freedoms in the state.
Mr Andrews suggested that going forward, life for the vaccinated would “be about the maintenance of your vaccination status”.
“I hope, and we’ll play our part in this, like a month before your six months is up, then you will get a message and your vaccination certificate, the thing that gets you the green tick, you’ll be prompted to go and book a time to go and have your booster shot,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
“There may be state clinics in that or it might be all done through GPs and pharmacies, that hasn’t been worked through yet. We’re happy to play our part, though. So it’ll be about the maintenance of your vaccination status.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has repeatedly stressed that “if you’re double vaccinated, you’re fully vaccinated” and that boosters would be optional for “additional protection”.
But at a press conference last month, he would not rule out a scenario where Australians would be required to be “up-to-date” with their boosters for the purposes of vaccine passports.
“Sure – look, [we] will follow medical advice on that and I won’t speculate on passports,” Mr Hunt said. “I think that’s very much a medical question with the science to flow over the coming months. So, it’s a fair question.”
In Israel, the only other country to roll out boosters to its whole population, the government announced last month that more than one million people who were eligible for, but had not yet received their third dose, would have their vaccination passports cancelled.
Similarly in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also said the definition of “fully vaccinated” may change as boosters roll out.
A Health Department spokeswoman told news.com.au last month that the current medical advice was “you are fully vaccinated at two doses”.
But she said the federal government’s vaccine advisory group ATAGI would provide further advice in coming weeks “including whether a booster dose is required to maintain protection against Covid-19 and, if so, how often it should be administered”.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet earlier this week announced that the date at which unvaccinated people will be freed from restrictions would be pushed back to just before Christmas, while bringing forward freedoms for those who are fully vaccinated.
Mr Perrottet said bringing forward the easing of restrictions was only possible because of the state’s high vaccination rates and the rollout of booster shots.
“We are on track to reach 90 per cent double vaccination weeks ahead of schedule and this is a testament to everybody across NSW and especially our health workers,” he said.
“There is still a long way to go but the NSW government is standing with the community and continuing to do everything that we can, including booster shots, to keep people safe as we open up.”