Immunisation Weekly Update:

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Bivalent BA.4/BA.5 COVID-19 booster vaccines well tolerated

New vaccine safety data published by AusVaxSafety have shown Australians report fewer side effects following COVID-19 vaccination with the newly introduced bivalent BA.4/BA.5 booster vaccines than with the existing bivalent BA.1 and original COVID-19 booster vaccines.

Most participants experienced no side effects in the first three days following Pfizer bivalent BA.4/BA.5 (73 per cent) and Moderna bivalent BA.4/BA.5 (64 per cent) COVID-19 vaccination.

Study: COVID-19 vaccination highly effective against death in older Australians

A new national study of 3.8 million adults has shown that in Australian adults aged 65 years and older, recent COVID-19 vaccination – a booster dose received in the last three months – reduced the risk of death from SARS-CoV-2 infection by as much as 93 per cent compared to those who were unvaccinated.

The benefit was particularly high for adults resident in aged care facilities, who have significantly higher COVID-19 mortality rates. Between June and November 2022, one COVID-19 death was prevented among aged care residents for every 157 people boosted.

Analysis of vaccine recipients during the first omicron wave found vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 death was highest (93 per cent) in the three months following a third COVID-19 vaccine dose; effectiveness decreased (to 63 per cent) in individuals who had received their third COVID-19 vaccine dose more than six months prior.

Similarly, during the second omicron wave, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 death was highest (84 per cent) in individuals in the three months following a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose, and effectiveness decreased (to 56 per cent) in those who had received their fourth dose more than six months prior.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said, “These findings confirm that current recommendations for a COVID-19 booster to be given when it has been more than six months since last receipt (or infection) are important to protect older adults against death from COVID-19, particularly for aged care residents.’’

Updates to COVID-19 resources

Immunisation providers are strongly advised to access these resources via the online links, as they are updated regularly, and information can quickly become outdated and incorrect.

COVID-19 Vaccines in Australia

This poster provides key differences between each COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia as per the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.

ATAGI recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses – updated 4 May

This poster outlines the COVID-19 vaccine doses recommended for each age and population group.

Cold Chain Breach (CCB) reporting form – updated 4 May

This form is to help vaccine providers report a potential cold chain breach under the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Immunisation Education  

Webinar: PenCS – Increase influenza immunisation coverage in your practice

  • About: Learn how to use the FLU Topbar App and how to identify patients eligible for the NIP funded flu vaccine
  • When: Thursday | 18 May 2023 | 1:00pm – 1:30 pm
  • Register: Free – Click link to register.

Webinar video: NCIRS – HPV in 2023

  • Watch the webinar recording on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, including an in-depth look at the use, effectiveness and safety of HPV vaccines.