The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
28 January 2022
WITH NATALIE BARR AND DAVID KOCH
Topics: TGA approved Pfizer vaccine to be used as a booster for 16 and 17 year olds
More now on our breaking news this morning, COVID-19 booster shots for teenagers are one step closer for young Australians. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted provisional approval for Pfizer to be a third dose.
16 and 17 year olds will receive the same boosters used in adult populations. Currently, only people 18 years and older have been able to get the booster shot.
Joining us now is Health Minister, Greg Hunt. Morning to you.
This third booster shot, good news.
It is good news. So it’s the first of two green lights that are necessary. The Therapeutic Goods Administration, our medical regulator, has said that Pfizer for 16 to 17 year olds as a booster is safe and effective.
It’s now with the Advisory body, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, and we’re hopeful to get advice from them within the next week, if not earlier. And if that’s a yes, we’ll make it available immediately.
There are very large numbers of doses that are out in the field with GPs and pharmacies and Commonwealth and state clinics, so more protection for more people.
Yeah. Speaking of boosters, are you concerned about the take up of the third booster, that it’s running a bit slow and I’m finding a lot of people who have had Omicron are telling me I don’t need to get the booster now because this gives me the same immunity?
So the first thing is the take up has actually been an extraordinary, 232,000 doses yesterday, over 7.3 million, or two thirds of the population that are eligible, have already taken up the booster.
So, we’re seeing actually a booster take up at a faster daily rate than the highest daily rate for first or second doses.
Gee, that’s good.
The next thing, though, is if you have had Omicron, you should still go and get your booster. That is the very clear medical advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Professor Paul Kelly, and I’m standing up with Professor Alison McMillan, who’s our Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer today, and she is making exactly that point, that if you had Omicron, you should still go and get your booster.
So we’re doing a fantastic job and, you know, one of the fastest vaccination rates in the world for those boosters and higher than at any time in first or second dose. But we want everybody to keep coming forward.
And on Monday, it moves from four months since your second dose to three months for those that are in that window and that will get more people.
Okay. So you’re saying, if you’ve had Omicron, you are not protected in the future? You still got to get your booster shot? It’s a myth?
Correct. The advice is crystal clear from ATAGI, from the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Paul Kelly, and that is boosters are for everyone.
Okay. I think we learnt that with Mr Djokovic coming into the country.
So what do you say to parents with kids going back to school this week? We’ve got some parents who don’t want to send their kids back to school. Some parents who are worried about, you know, testing their kids and they’ll be freaked out by it.
So, look, firstly for parents, thank you. We’ve had over around 820,000 kids come forward to be vaccinated along with their parents, 46,000 yesterday.
We’re encouraging again all the parents and all the children to make sure that their kids are vaccinated, but numbers are climbing, and they’re already, you know, one of the highest rates in the world for kids.
But at the same time, the schools are taking important protections. New South Wales and Victoria have important screening programs with rapid antigen tests. We have ventilation in schools, and we have vaccination, and we have vaccination of parents and teachers with a 95 and a half per cent adult vaccination rate around Australia.
So all of these things are coming together to protect kids. And we, you know, the medical authorities are absolutely clear that for the health, mental health, wellbeing, and educational development of kids, the best place for kids is to be in school. The best way to protect them is to have them vaccinated.
Yep. And to be vaccinated yourself. Minister, thanks very much for joining us.