Nationally, more than 72 per cent of Australians aged over 16 have now had a third COVID-19 vaccine dose (first booster), but only 43 per cent of those aged over 30 have had a fourth dose (second booster).
Around 72 per cent of Australians aged over 16 have had a COVID booster. Source: SBS News
Third vaccine dose rates in Queensland and NSW are especially low compared to other states, with 65 per cent vaccinated in the sunshine state and 70 per cent in NSW. Western Australia has the highest rate, with 84 per cent of the population having had a third jab.
Professor Collignon, of Canberra Hospital and the Australian National University, said the vaccines are only about 30 per cent effective at stopping infection, although they do markedly decrease someone’s risk of death and serious disease.
Who should get vaccinated?
Those who are immunocompromised can get a fifth dose.
A UK Health Security Agency report released on 1 December showed COVID-19 vaccines were 85 per cent effective against deaths from Omicron two to four weeks after a third dose, and 68 per cent effective after six months.
How to stop COVID-19 from invading your Christmas table
“But mainly be outside as much as you can and avoid crowded indoor situations as much as is practicable.”
Families are advised to have their Christmas meals outside where possible. Source: Getty / Jessie Casson
Studies have suggested eye protection could help prevent COVID-19 infection in healthcare workers but more research is needed among the general population.
Clinical epidemiologist Professor Nancy Baxter of the University of Melbourne said wearing a mask in the week leading up to Christmas Day, and doing Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for the three days before would also reduce the risk.
People queue at a mass COVID-19 vaccination hub in Sydney last year. Source: AAP / Joel Carrett
Being selective about social activities would also be a good idea. Professor Baxter said she would be heading home for Christmas and “what’s on my social calendar in the week before is going to be pretty limited”.
“I think individual families are going to have to think about the risk to people who are at their Christmas table,” she said “[and] to try and minimise the risk that COVID comes to that Christmas table”.
COVID-19 cases on the rise
There were 32 deaths in NSW (up seven) and 54 deaths in Victoria (down 14).
A woman has her temperature checked before entering the Sydney Fish Market in 2020. Source: AAP / Bianca De Marchi
A mixture of new Omicron sub-variants has been blamed for the rise in infections, as they are said to be more immune-evasive and are responding to waning immunity from past infection and past vaccination.
These sub-variants include the XBF recombinant strain (a combination of BA.2.75 and BA.5) and existing sub-variants BQ.1/BQ.1.1 and BA 2.75, along with the XBB recombinant.
“I still think we’re peaking before Christmas,” he said. “[It’s still] a bit uncertain but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we’re at the peak right now”.
States re-introduce measures
– Additional reporting by AAP