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COVID-19 and vaccines

We have information to help keep you safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

A woman injects another woman's arm

Vaccination is an important strategy to help reduce the risk of developing infectious diseases, including COVID-19, caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

For people who are immunocompromised, such as those living with kidney disease (stage 3b), dialysis or transplanted, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of contracting COVID-19, so we encourage people to talk to their GP about receiving the vaccine.

We have provided a Q&A below on the vaccination program for people with kidney disease, which has been done in consultation with the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology (ANZSN) and the Transplant Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ). This information is based on information provided by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

Please note that information on the vaccination program is changing regularly, so please always check the government website below for the very latest.

Update 18 July 2022

Vaccination:
ATAGI has updated its recommendations for a winter dose of COVID-19 vaccine to help reduce severe disease from the emerging surge of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariant infections, and to reduce the burden on Australian hospitals and the healthcare system in coming months.
The updated recommendations are:
• Adults aged 50 to 64 years are now recommended to receive a winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
• Adults aged 30 to 49 years can receive a winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, however the benefit for people in this age group is less certain.
• The interval recommended between a recent SARS-CoV-2 infection or the first booster dose and a winter booster dose is now 3 months.
ATAGI emphasises that people previously eligible for a winter booster dose remain at higher risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 and should receive a winter booster dose as soon as possible. They include:
• All adults aged 65 years or older
• Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older
• People who are severely immunocompromised (this will be their fifth dose)
• People aged 16 years or older with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness
• People aged 16 years or older with disability, significant or complex health needs, or multiple comorbidities which increase the risk of a poor outcome.
ATAGI emphasises that individuals who have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2, irrespective of which variant it may have been, should continue to receive recommended vaccine doses, after an interval of 3 months, as prior infection alone will not provide sufficient protection against severe disease.
Comirnaty (Pfizer, from age 16 years) or Spikevax (Moderna, from age 18 years) are the preferred vaccines for a COVID-19 booster dose. Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) can be used in people aged 18 or older when an mRNA vaccine is contraindicated, or where a person declines vaccination with an mRNA vaccine. Nuvaxovid (Novavax) can be used in people aged 18 or older if no other COVID-19 vaccine is considered suitable for that person.

Flu vaccination:
ATAGI also encourages people to be vaccinated against Influenza. Influenza vaccine can be co-administered with the additional booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. However, if a person is not yet eligible for their additional booster dose, influenza vaccine could be given ahead of the additional booster dose.

See:

ATAGI Statement on the Omicron variant and the timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination | Australian Government Department of Health

ATAGI recommendations on the use of a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised | Australian Government Department of Health

As the vaccine rollout continues, we recommend you visit the Federal Government website on COVID-19 vaccines to get the latest information and advice on vaccine availability and which vaccine you can and should access.

    If you have a specific question or concern regarding COVID vaccination, we suggest that you contact your own specialist or transplant/renal unit for advice, because local conditions and advice vary across Australia.

    If your have more specific queries around the vaccine rollout as it affects people with kidney disease, please call our Helpline on 1800 454 363.

    Questions and Answers on the vaccine for people with kidney disease

    Kidney Health Australia (KHA) strongly encourages all Australians, including those living with kidney disease, to get vaccinated. Vaccination is a critical component along with other public health measures to maximise protection against illness from COVID-19 infection. To date, over 28 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Australia.

    KHA supports the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) position that vaccination is the most effective way to reduce deaths and severe illness from infection. We recommend you access the COVID vaccine through a GP clinic, pharmacy or vaccination hub as soon as you can.

    Make sure to follow the vaccine schedule and to get both doses of whichever vaccine is suitable for your situation. Research has shown the immune response triggered by the vaccines is greatest after the 2nd dose, offering between 80-90% protection against severe COVID-19 disease. ATAGI has also recently approved a 3rd dose for certain individuals, see more below.

    To book a vaccine appointment go to the https://www.health.gov.au/reso... or to find out how to book your vaccination appointment call the National Coronavirus and COVID Vaccination Helpline on 1800 020 080.

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