The booster program is expected to be finalised in coming days, with authorities considering how they’ll notify Aussies when it’s their turn.
Texts and emails could soon be sent out as a reminder for Australians to get their Covid-19 booster shot within six months of being fully vaccinated.
The booster shot program has begun for immunocompromised people, and the rollout will soon expand to cover aged care and disability care residents and staff and frontline workers.
The commonwealth has ordered 1.6 million booster shots, which will begin being distributed in coming weeks, with more doses expected to be ordered soon.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration met on Monday to discuss Pfizer’s bid to play a role in the booster program, which is expected to be formally announced by the end of the week before priority Australians begin rolling up their sleeves from next month.
As part of the rollout, it’s understood text messages and emails are being considered to be sent out to remind Australians to get their booster shot from either Services Australia, a GP or pharmacy – depending on where they received their first two doses.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews suggested on Sunday that the vaccine economy would rely on residents to maintain their vaccination status, including receiving any booster shots.
Israel is the only country in the world that has mandated booster shots in order to be considered fully vaccinated.
Public health expert Nancy Baxter told the Today show on Tuesday that text messaging and emails could play a key role in ensuring Australians knew the importance of booster shots.
“Generally, your immunity starts to wane about five to six months. Boosters are probably going to be at that time period right now,” Professor Baxter said.
“In the future, we may start to think of the Pfizer, Moderna shots as a three-dose vaccine, so requires three doses to get to your maximum immunity, so the timing may change over time.
“But that is currently what they’re planning.”
Professor Baxter said Australia should learn from Israel and the UK that a “top up” could prevent “catastrophic” consequences.
“People with diminished immune systems … don’t respond as well to the two doses, so they actually need three doses,” she said.
“And with waning immunity for people with an immune system that is not as strong, like the elderly, they can get quite sick as their immunity wanes.
“It’s really important for people to get the booster, but people shouldn’t be worried that they will get seriously ill from Covid if they’re a little bit later past that five or six month time period. We need to get boosted but not this minute.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement on Sunday that the government was awaiting advice from the TGA and ATAGI.