How long should the disability community wait to receive a fourth COVID-19 vaccine?

18 July 2022
Due to the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron Covid-19 subvariants triggering a surge in cases throughout the country, the Australian government has announced that 7.4 million people will be  eligible to a fourth dose.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has encouraged vulnerable people to make an appointment for their fourth dose as soon as possible. Fourth dose appointments have already been made available from Monday 11 July.
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COVID-19 vaccine at home for the disability community

Who can get the fourth dose, also known as the winter dose?  

The government has recommended that everyone over 50 should have a fourth dose. People who are 30 to 49 can also get it if they want to. However, the benefit for people in this age group is less certain. 

Aged care or disability care facility residents aged 16 years and older can also receive the fourth dose. People aged 16 years and older who have complex, chronic, or severe medical conditions that increase their risk of severe illness from COVID-19, as well as people aged 16 years and older with disability with significant or complex health needs, or multiple comorbidities with increased risks of poor outcome from COVID-19. 

Adolescents aged 12-15 years in the following groups who completed their primary course 3 or more months ago may receive a single COVID-19 vaccine booster: 

  • those who are severely immunocompromised 

  • those who have a disability with significant or complex health needs 

  • those who have complex and/or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19. 

ATAGI also recommends that people in eligible at-risk population groups, including those who are severely immunocompromised (for these people, it will be a fifth dose) or who have underlying medical conditions, receive their fourth/fifth dose. 

 

What is immunocompromise?  

Being ‘immunocompromised’ means having a weakened immune system due to a medical condition or treatment. Many conditions can cause immunocompromise, including: 

  • cancer, especially blood cancer (leukaemia or lymphoma) 

  • treatments for cancer (e.g. chemotherapy, targeted therapies, radiotherapy and CAR-T cell therapy) can also weaken the immune system 

  • having a bone marrow, stem cell or solid organ transplant 

  • immune deficiencies 

  • HIV infection (particularly if the CD4 count is low) 

  • taking medications that weaken your immune system. These medications are called immunosuppressants or immunomodulators 

 

How long after my third dose can I get my fourth? 

ATAGI has advised that if you’ve already had three or four doses, and were recently infected with Omicron, you should wait three months from your Omicron infection. Otherwise, wait three months from your last dose before getting your next one. 

 

Which vaccine should I get for my fourth dose? 

Most people will get Pfizer or Moderna. It does not matter if you had a different COVID vaccine before. 

  

Where can I get it? 

 There are lots of places to get your fourth dose. 

  • Talk to your chemist or doctor to find a place near you 

  • Book a booster dose or fourth dose, on COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder 

  • SMS ‘Hey EVA’ to 0481 611 382 
    Someone from the National Coronavirus Helpline will call you to help book your COVID vaccination 

  • Call the Disability Gateway on 1800 643 789 

 

What about my support workers? 

Disability worker vaccine mandates remain in place until 12 October. Vaccine mandates have not been revised to include fourth dose requirement. 


How long is the COVID-19 immunity period? 

COVID-19 immunity period shortened from 12 to four weeks.   

  • If you develop COVID symptoms four weeks or more after having COVID, stay home and get tested.  
  • If someone you live with gets COVID less than four weeks after you had COVID you must take a RAT on at least five days of the next seven days. 


For more information about COVID-19 vaccines 

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