The Immunization Advisory Group is now recommending a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people with various immunocompromised conditions.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) has recommended that more people receive a fourth “winter” dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In an announcement on Wednesday afternoon, the group said an additional winter booster is now advised for an expanded group of people, to be given four months after an initial booster.
Under the new guidelines, people with a medical condition that increases the risk of serious illness (see list below) are now eligible, as are people with disabilities who have significant or complex health needs, or multiple comorbidities that increase the risk of poor outcomes. of COVID-19.
People in the new expanded group are those between the ages of 16 and 64 with conditions such as:
- Cancer, with examples as follows: Non-hematologic cancer, including those diagnosed within the last five years or on chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted cancer therapy (active or recently completed treatment) or with advanced disease regardless of treatment. Childhood cancer survivors
- Chronic inflammatory conditions requiring medical treatment with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory therapies with examples as follows: systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and the like that are treated
- Chronic lung disease with examples as follows: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung disease, and severe asthma (defined as requiring frequent hospital visits or the use of multiple medications).
- Chronic liver disease with examples as follows: cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease
- Severe chronic kidney disease (step 4 or 5)
- Chronic neurological disease with examples as follows: stroke, neurodegenerative disease (e.g. dementia, motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s disease), myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, myopathies, paralytic syndromes, epilepsy
- Diabetic sugar requiring medication
- Chronic heart disease with examples as follows: ischemic heart disease, valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathies, poorly controlled hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, complex congenital heart disease
- People with Disabilities with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities that increase the risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19, especially people with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) or complex multisystem disorders
- Severe obesity with BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2
- Severe underweight with BMI < 16.5 kg/m2
ATAGI said the list is not exhaustive and that “providers may include people with conditions similar to those listed below, based on clinical judgement.”
The group also reiterated that additional winter doses should be delayed for three months after a confirmed COVID-19 infection clears.
In March, ATAGI recommended a fourth dose for everyone over 65, as well as all residents of nursing homes, regardless of age. People aged 16 and over with severe immune deficiency and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 and over were also included in this recommendation.
Assistant Professor Karen Price, President of the RACGP, welcomed the announcement.
“The pandemic is far from over and this winter expansion is a positive step forward,” she said.
“Winter is fast approaching and we have strong community transmission of COVID-19 in all corners of the country.”
However, Professor Price also warned that the extra dose would place an increasing load on a primary care system struggling with COVID-19 cases, flu shots and a daily workload of patients with significant backlogs in due to the pandemic.
“Some practices are still struggling to absorb the cost of participating in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout,” she said.
‘New [Federal] The government has a great opportunity to support the general practices of the country and ensure that we have the resources we need.
“We need more funding and support for GP teams and it is important to bear in mind that this will enable more practices to hold after hours vaccination clinics and the weekend.
“It would be a fantastic start for the government and a clear demonstration that they have GPs and their hard-working GP teams in mind.”
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