Due to changes in regulations less people are getting tested for COVID-19, however, NSW Health monitors COVID-19 by monitoring emergency department presentations and analysing sewage. These surveillance methods indicate that COVID-19 is on the rise again.
The COVID-19 activity in the community is steadily increasing, marking the beginning of the next COVID-19 wave. As in other countries like the US, a new Omicron subvariant called Eris (also known as EG.5.1) has overtaken other previously prevalent subvariants and can now be detected in more than 50% of all new NSW COVID-19 infections analysed in the laboratory.
The good news is that COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death (1). This is particularly important for older adults, those with risk factors for severe disease, and people living in residential aged care.
Can I get a top up with a second 2023 booster?
ATAGI, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, 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, or
- reside in a residential care facility.
In addition, ATAGI continues to encourage all adults who have not yet had one 2023 booster dose to receive a vaccine dose as soon as possible (1).
What about younger patients?
Adults aged 18 to 64 years without risk factors for severe COVID-19 and children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 years with risk factors for severe COVID-19 can consider a 2023 booster dose based on an individual risk/benefit assessment with their immunisation provider(1).
Booster doses are not recommended for children and adolescents under the age of 18 who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID-19 (1).
What if I recently had COVID-19?
If you had COVID-19 in the last 6 months the natural immunity will protect you against a new COVID-19 infection however this immunity will decrease over time, so a booster dose after 6 months can provide improved protection against COVID-19.
What vaccines are recommended?
Bivalent Omicron-based mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to be preferred for all doses in people aged ≥ 12 years (1, 2).
Where can I get my booster?
Speak to your GP or pharmacist, or look up available providers near you by clicking here: Find a COVID-19 vaccine clinic near you | healthdirect
What else can I do to reduce the risk?
Keep in mind that COVID-19 safe behaviours such as physical distancing and good hand hygiene are still very effective. Also, consider wearing a mask in crowded places.
If you feel unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms, test and stay at home if you have COVID-19 to limit the spread. Contact your health provider for advice on managing COVID-19 at home.
Click here for more information about COVID-19 and vaccines (australia.gov.au).
- ATAGI. Covid-19 vaccines. Frequently asked questions (06/11/2023). COVID-19 vaccines: Frequently asked questions | NCIRS
- Australian Government. Department of Health and Aged Care. ATAGI Update on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program (01/09/2023)
ATAGI Update on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
- Australian Government. Department for Health and Aged Care. Australian Immunisation Handbook, Covid 19 (06/11/2023). Recommendations | COVID-19 | The Australian Immunisation Handbook (health.gov.au)