Catholic Health Australia has welcomed the approval of a booster Covid-19 shot, but is calling on the Federal Government to ensure health and aged care workers remain a priority and that the shots are compulsory.
The organisation – which is the largest non-government provider grouping of health, community and aged care services in the country – has been advocating strongly for a booster to be approved for a number of months.
Frontline staff who got their first jabs early in the year have been worried their immunity is likely to be dropping, Catholic Health warned.
Alex Lynch, Health Policy Manager at Catholic Health Australia, said the sector was relieved by the Pfizer booster approval, but the government needed to do more to ensure safety.
Immunity of double doses starts to reduce
“As we have been saying for weeks, there is strong evidence that the immunity offered against Delta by two vaccine doses wears off significantly after eight months,” Lynch stated.
“So, doctors, nurses and those in aged care who got their first shots early are becoming vulnerable. They need that booster.”
He added: “It’s good that health and aged care workers are in that priority group, but we need that booster shot to be a compulsory condition for working in hospitals as well as residential and community aged care.”
“We need the government to send an unambiguous message: if you work in health or aged care then you must be vaccinated.”
Vaccines for hospital staff not controversial
According to Catholic Health Australia, mandating Covid vaccines for hospital staff should not be thought of as controversial; healthcare workers are already required to get jabs to protect against the likes of measles, mumps and rubella.
News agency Reuters reported on Monday that Australian officials plan to roll out Covid-19 booster shots soon to prevent a resurgence of cases, as residents in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne begin to enjoy more freedoms after months-long curbs.
“Australia has ditched its Covid-zero strategy in favour of suppressing the coronavirus, after largely stamping out infections for most of this year, and is now aiming to live with the virus through higher vaccinations,” Reuters said.
“Officials are gradually shifting their focus to booster shots as double-dose vaccinations levels in Australia’s adult population nears 75%. Almost 87% of people above 16 have received their first dose since the national rollout began in February.”