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COVID-19 vaccination – changes in ATAGI recommendations for 2023 booster doses

COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death. This is particularly important for older adults and those with risk factors for severe disease (1).

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released updated recommendations regarding an additional 2023 COVID-19 dose for the highest-risk population groups. These recommendations add to the previous ATAGI COVID-19 vaccine booster advice published in February 2023 (1).

Who are the groups recommended for an additional 2023 booster?

ATAGI recommends that all adults aged 75 years and over should receive an additional 2023 COVID-19 vaccine dose if 6 months have passed since their last dose.  (1)

ATAGI also advises that the following groups should consider an additional 2023 COVID-19 vaccine dose if 6 months have passed since their last dose, after discussion with their healthcare provider: 

  • all adults aged 65–74 years; and/or 
  • adults aged 18–64 years with severe immunocompromise.

Within the above groups, an additional 2023 COVID-19 vaccine dose is likely to be of greatest benefit for people who: 

  • have no known history of SARS-CoV-2 infection (and are therefore unlikely to have protection from hybrid immunity) 
  • have medical comorbidities that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or disability with significant or complex health needs.
  • reside in a residential aged care facility. 

ATAGI continues to encourage all adults who were recommended to have a COVID-19 vaccine dose in February 2023, and who have not yet had one, to receive a vaccine dose as soon as possible (1). 

What about younger patients?

For younger people or older adults without severe immunocompromise who have already had a dose in 2023, no further doses are currently recommended (1). Their risk of severe illness is low if they have already been vaccinated, and particularly if they have previously been infected with Covid (1, 2).

What vaccines are recommended?

Bivalent Omicron-based mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to be preferred for all doses in people aged ≥ 12 years (1).

ATAGI notes that XBB.1.5-based vaccines have been developed, but these are not yet approved for use by any country and updates will be provided as information is available (1).

  1. Australian Government. Department of Health and Aged Care. ATAGI Update on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program (01/09/2023)
  2. ATAGI Update on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
  3. Australian COVID-19 Serosurveillance Network. Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies among Australian blood donors: Round 3 update (2022). https://kirby.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/COVID19-Blood-Donor-Report-Round3-Aug-Sep-2022.pdf

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Learn more about General Practice Support Grants for COVID care - applications closing soon