When do I need my booster shot?


The low-down on your third jab.

Did you get COVID for Christmas? I did! With the highly infectious Omicron variant recently unleashing itself on the Australian public, thousands of us are recovering from, or in the midst of, a case of COVID-19. In 2021, many of us were lucky enough to only know ‘a friend of a friend’ or an ‘aunty in England’ who actually contracted the virus. As the cases in every state start to skyrocket, 2022 is already proving to be a completely different beast.

Those who have recently tested positive can attest to the fact that it’s no fun at all. Shocker! While my two AstraZeneca vaccines were working overtime to ensure I didn’t unalive, I felt body aches, fevers and chills, headaches, a sore throat, diarrhoea (I’m sorry! If I had to deal with it, you have to hear about it), a loss of taste and smell and extreme fatigue. But I’m still here!

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My recent experience left me with new questions about my booster shot. I know I want this booster shot (and any others to come in future) as it helps to ‘boost’ (obviously) my protection against the virus – I have no questions there. But I planned on getting it as soon as the holiday rush was over (i.e. now) and I’m still recovering from the virus. What happens next? Do I need to book in?

To answer my questions (and yours), I’ve done some research. Keep in mind this is current information (subject to change) pertaining to Australia.

Who should get it

According to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), anybody aged 18 and over who completed their vaccinations four months ago (likely to soon change to three) is eligible for their booster shot. You can get either Pfizer or Moderna, regardless of your initial doses. This time frame is also recommended for pregnant people. ABC News states, “Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is only just considering an application for booster shots for 16 to 17-year-olds.”

Depending on the state you live in, you may need to book. In Victoria, for example, you’ll need to book through this online booking system. You can find the info you need by searching your state and ‘booster vaccine’. It’s very easy to book!

If your workplace requires (or heavily encourages) it

NSW Health states that “for the purposes of complying with public health orders, you are considered fully vaccinated if you have two doses of an approved vaccine. Booster doses are not required for compliance with public health orders”. In saying this, vaccine mandates in your workplace specifically are up to the discretion of your employer.

For reference, health minister Greg Hunt has said “Medicare’s vaccination records would be updated to reflect third doses. Two courses of a vaccine is still regarded as fully vaccinated”. The ATAGI has stated those working on the frontline of the virus response (healthcare workers, for example) will be prioritised in the vaccine and booster rollout.

If you’ve recently had the spicy cough

Apparently, there are no ‘hard and fast’ rules on this one. The ATAGI statement reads “If a patient tests positive for COVID-19 between their first and second doses, or between their second and booster dose, the patient should delay next dose until they have recovered from the acute illness”. This means you’re testing negative (obviously) and your serious symptoms have largely subsided.

If you’re immunocompromised

According to NSW Health, for those who are immunocompromised, a third dose is “recommended as part of a primary course to achieve similar levels of protection”. A booster shot is different to a third primary dose and those who are at higher risk will likely require both. There’s more information on the difference between the two here.

If you don’t want to

Your first and second dose still technically count as ‘fully vaccinated’, but considering the current Omicron climate, I’d encourage going for your third. If you’re not vaccinated at allwhy are you reading this article? Go ahead and exercise your freedom of choice, but refrain from sharing misinformation on social media and understand the gravity of your decision. As Kourtney Kardashian said, “Kim, there are people that are dying”.

For more advice on booster shots, head here.

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