Australia is expected to follow other parts of the world in expanding eligibility for a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to the wider population.
As the country grapples with the rising number of cases, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says immunization experts will review available evidence before making a recommendation.
“The pandemic is not over yet, so my view is that (Australia) will inevitably follow what has happened in other parts of the world and roll out another booster shot,” he said on Wednesday.
“I would encourage people who haven’t had booster shots yet to get out if they qualify and do it urgently.”
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) is expected to discuss the benefits of expanding the suitability of the fourth dose at their meeting on Wednesday.
It is currently available to Australians over 65 and vulnerable people.
Meanwhile, Victoria has extended her pandemic statement for three months. The statement was supposed to expire at midnight on July 12, but has been extended until at least October 12.
In a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said COVID-19 continues to pose a “serious risk” to public health across the state.
This justified ongoing public health measures during the winter to reduce the risk of transmission and hospitalization, he said.
NSW Health Secretary Brad Hazzard also warned anyone not fully vaccinated is “mad” as the state braces for a third wave that will peak in late July and early August.
The increase in the number of cases is caused by two Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, and health experts believe the number of cases and deaths will continue to grow.
State and territory health experts are also considering whether to reintroduce mask mandates to curb the rise in cases.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant urged people to consider wearing masks in enclosed spaces to curb the spread of disease.
As Victoria’s death toll soared above 4,000, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said he couldn’t make it clearer that vaccines worked.
However, he stopped telling Victorians to wear masks outside of current mandatory settings such as health facilities, aged care and public transport.
On Tuesday, there were 3,740 people with COVID in hospitals across the country, the highest level since February during the height of the Omicron wave.
More than 36,000 infections have been reported nationwide and experts warn that the number of cases will rise further as winter progresses.
no longer have to declare their vaccination status to enter the country.