The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) decision to approve a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 and over.
The TGA approval means that the vaccine has been found safe and effective to boost protection through a third booster dose provided at least six months after the second dose. The RACGP awaits the final advice on the rollout of boosters, which will be provided to the Government by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation or ATAGI.
It follows the announcement earlier this month that severely immunocompromised patients can receive a third primary dose of the COVID-19 vaccines.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said that it was a positive step forward in the vaccine rollout.
“Today’s decision is great news for people across Australia,” she said.
“We will await the final advice of ATAGI and decision by the Federal Government on the booster rollout.
“It makes perfect sense for general practice to be front and centre in delivering booster doses. We have delivered more than 19 million COVID-19 vaccines and truly remain the backbone of this rollout.
“We know that the strength of immunity afforded by the COVID-19 vaccines does wane over time. So, ensuring that our immunity to COVID-19 is ‘topped up’ by a booster dose will make a real difference in keeping people as safe as possible from harm.
“Our aim will be to provide boosters to the original priority groups, which includes some of more vulnerable populations. It is expected that we will give booster doses to aged care and disability care residents through in-reach teams visiting these facilities.”
Dr Price urged people to be patient.
“Pending the final advice of ATAGI and a formal decision made by the Government, the booster shots should be available soon, and in the meantime, please remain calm,” she said.
“People will have their booster dose at least six months after their second vaccine dose. So, unless you were at the front of the queue and received your second vaccine in the first half of 2021, you will not be receiving your booster dose right away.
“Practices will have to adjust their vaccine processes, get their heads around what this means for their day-to-day operations and carefully plan out how they will deliver these doses.
“Please don’t rush forward all at once to receive your booster dose and remember to at all times treat GPs, practice managers, nurses, receptionists and administrative workers with courtesy and respect. They are doing a remarkable job in this vaccine rollout, including navigating all the eligibility changes and the various twists and turns that have made it such a taxing experience for many practices.
“Remember, practices don’t make the rules concerning vaccine eligibility, including the timing of booster doses. So please refrain from any threatening or abusive language and remember what they have been through in 2021.
“When receiving your booster dose, a simple thank you to general practice staff is highly encouraged.”