In recent weeks, you’ve likely been hearing a lot about the surge in COVID-19 cases across Australia. Throughout the colder winter months, the country has been grappling with the new Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of COVID. But experts warn that the surge in COVID cases is far from over. As a result, many people across Australia are wondering: when can I get my fourth COVID-19 vaccine?
Let’s take a look at the details you need to know about the fourth COVID jab (also known as your second booster shot), whether you’re currently eligible and where to get one.
Who is eligible to get a fourth COVID vaccine in Australia?
As of 11 July 2022, the following groups of people are eligible to receive a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine (second booster):
- People aged 30 years or older
- A resident of an aged care or disability care facility
- Those who are severely immunocompromised (this will be a fifth dose)
- People aged 16 years or older and with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness
- People aged 16 years or older with a disability, with significant or complex health needs, or multiple comorbidities that increase the risk of a poor outcome.
At this stage, we don’t know when the booster program will expand to include people under the age of 30. Additionally, if you recently got your third dose or were infected with COVID-19, it’s recommended that you wait at least three months before getting your fourth vaccine.
Why should I get a fourth COVID vaccine?
Booster shots offer additional protection against COVID-19. According to the ACT Government, your protection against hospitalisation from COVID-19 rises to 90 per cent two weeks after getting a booster. Similarly, your protection against death from COVID-19 rises to 95 per cent two weeks after receiving your booster shot.
Given the highly contagious nature of the virus, this added protection is highly recommended by health officials. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has even made specific recommendations on getting booster shots during the winter, as the rate of infection tends to worsen in this period.
The COVID-19 booster program coincides with the Australian Government’s 2022 influenza vaccination program. Under this program, many states and territories have been offering free flu shots to all residents, including international students.
Where to get your COVID-19 booster shot in Australia
If you’re eligible to receive your fourth COVID-19 vaccine (or you haven’t had the chance to get your third one yet), you can visit any of the following locations to receive it:
- General practitioners (GPs)
- Community pharmacies
- Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs)
- State and territory pop-up clinics
Use the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder to locate a vaccine provider near you.