Teens set for boosters as schools return

Georgie Moore |

Alison McMillan says people who’d contracted COVID-19 can get a third jab as soon as symptom-free.
Alison McMillan says people who’d contracted COVID-19 can get a third jab as soon as symptom-free.

Children aged 16 and older are set to become eligible for COVID-19 boosters as schools go back and states brace for daily infection tallies to climb.

It follows Australia’s deadliest pandemic day so far, with 93 virus deaths reported on Friday. Of these, 39 were in Victoria and 35 in NSW.

Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan cautions death rates will remain high for some time even as infections appear to plateau.

The federal government is awaiting final approval for children aged 16 and 17 to receive booster shots, following the initial green light from Australia’s medicines regulator.

Health Minister Greg Hunt expects the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to sign off on the move next week, paving the way for the rollout to start.

The wait time for boosters across the country will also drop from four to three months on Monday.

Professor McMillan reassured people who had contracted COVID-19 they could get a third dose as soon as they were symptom-free.

This was in contrast with NSW advice telling people to wait for between four and six weeks after recovering from the virus.

The return of schools next week, accompanied by states’ rapid test surveillance, is expected to drive daily case tallies up again.

Queensland earlier delayed its school return by two weeks until February 7, while South Australia decided on a staged return over the coming fortnight. 

NSW recorded 13,333 new infections on Friday and Victoria 12,775 cases.

In Queensland, there were 9974 new infections while 18 people died. 

The NT recorded 940 cases, Tasmania 584 and the ACT 734 infections alongside one death.

Western Australia reported nine new local cases as that state outlined how it would relax testing and isolation rules when infections rose.