ABC: AstraZeneca withdraws COVID-19 vaccine citing a decline in demand

AstraZeneca has commenced a global withdrawal of the COVID-19 vaccine Vaxzevria, which has not been available in Australia since March 2023.

The withdrawal is due to a surplus of available updated vaccines, which has caused a decline in demand for Vaxzevria.

Read more at ABC: AstraZeneca withdraws COVID-19 vaccine citing a decline in demand

MVEC: Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)

ATAGI: Statement on the administration of COVID-19 vaccines in 2024

ATAGI ha released new advice relating to the administration of further 新冠肺炎 vaccines. 

The need and frequency of further doses beyond a primary course depends on the age of the recipient and their level of immunocompromise:  

  • All individuals aged 75 years and over- recommended to receive a dose every 6 months 
  • All individuals aged 65 to 74 years- recommended to receive a dose every 12 months, but can consider a dose every 6 months 
  • Individuals with severe immunocompromise aged 18 to 64 years- recommended to receive a dose every 12 months, but can consider a dose every 6 months 
  • Individuals without severe immunocompromise aged 18 to 64- can consider a dose every 12 months 
  • Individuals with severe immunocompromise aged 5 to 17 years- can consider a dose every 12 months 
  • Individuals without severe immunocompromise aged 5 to 17 years- not recommended to receive further doses 
  • Individuals less than 5 years- not recommended to receive further doses. 

Omicron XBB1.5 vaccines are preferred for all primary and subsequent doses in all ages. There is currently no supply of the 社区 Omicron XBB1.5 formulation for children aged 6 months- 4 years however it is anticipated to be available later in 2024. Until this time providers should continue using the age-appropriate Comirnaty original formulation for this group.  

For more information refer to: ATAGI statement on the administration of COVID-19 vaccines in 2024 

MCRI: Study into rare side effects of COVID-19 vaccines

A new international study will examine the rare side effects caused by COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Alberta in Canada is leading the study, through the 国际特殊免疫服务网络 (INSIS). INSIS brings together specialist clinicians in vaccine safety, systems biology and genomics, including AusVax安全, to characterise the risk factors and underlying mechanism of adverse events following COVID-19 immunisation.

INSIS focuses on very rare adverse reactions, those which affect less than 0.001 % of the population, that occur after COVID-19 vaccination. This study aims to understand the causes and risk factors behind these occurrences, to ensure the development of even safer vaccines in potential future pandemics.

Read more on the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) website.


MVEC: International Network of Special Immunization Services

MVEC: AusVaxSafety: vaccine safety surveillance in Australia

MVEC: AEFI-CAN: Adverse Events Following Immunisation – Clinical Assessment Network


New home for COVID-19 information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria has now moved all COVID-19 information to a new home on the Better Health Channel. Check the website for consumer and clinician information on disease prevention, testing, treatment, long covid, and special risk group advice.  

Better Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria 

Updated immunisation reference page: COVID‑19

We have updated our COVID-19 reference page with up-to-date guidance on currently available COVID-19 vaccines, across age groups.

The newly updated page includes recommendations on the use of the new monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccines and answers to commonly asked questions relating to the new vaccines as well as other COVID-19 vaccine-related queries. 


ATAGI: Recommendations on the use of the Moderna and Pfizer monovalent Omicron XBB.1.5 COVID-19 vaccines

On 20 November, ATAGI released new recommendations for the use of monovalent XBB.1.5 COVID-19 vaccines for primary vaccination and boosters, in those aged 5 and older.

The monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccines target currently circulating Omicron subvariants. This differs to the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines which offer protection against both earlier Omicron subvariants and the original strain of COVID-19.

All currently available COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against severe disease. Monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccines show a modest increase in protection and are therefore considered the preferred option.

People who have not received their recommended 2023 dose(s) are encouraged to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Those who have already received their 2023 dose(s) do not need revaccination with a monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccine.

The monovalent Omicron XBB.1.5 vaccines available for use in Australia are:

  • Pfizer (5 to < 12 years – light blue cap)
  • Pfizer (≥ 12 years – dark grey cap)
  • Moderna (≥ 12 years)

Eligible children under 5 years can continue to receive an age-appropriate original strain vaccines (Pfzier – maroon cap).

ATAGI statement

Australian Immunisation Handbook: New chapter on COVID-19

Today, 5 October 2023, the Department of Health and Aged Care has published a new chapter on COVID-19 in the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

In a major update, the new COVID-19 disease chapter consolidates the available COVID-19 clinical guidance material.

The chapter includes the following subsections:

  • Overview 
  • 建议 
  • Vaccines, dosage and administration 
  • 禁忌症与注意事项 
  • Adverse events 
  • Nature of the disease 
  • Clinical features 
  • 流行病学 
  • Vaccine information 
  • Transporting, storing and handling vaccines 
  • Public health management 
  • Variations from product information. 

Australian Immunisation Handbook: COVID-19

Misinterpretation and misuse of recent COVID-19 study

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) authors of a recent COVID-19 study have released a statement addressing the misinterpretation and misuse of their publication, BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccination in children alters cytokine responses to heterologous pathogens and Toll-like receptor agonists.

The publication has been used to claim that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous and that they suppress the immune system. The research does not provide any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful to the immune system of children or adults.

MCRI: A statement regarding a recent COVID-19 vaccination publication

Decommission of COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program

The COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program was decommissioned on 30 September 2023. From January 2021 to September 2023, successful completion of this program was mandatory for all providers delivering COVID-19 vaccines.

In Victoria, Secretary Approval from 1 October allows nurse immunisers and pharmacist immunisers to independently deliver COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to medical practitioners. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner immunisers can administer COVID-19 vaccines under the written instruction of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or authorised midwife.

Read more on the Victorian Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine page.

BMJ: Considerations for vaccinating children against COVID-19

In July, BMJ published a literature review led by researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) including MVEC Director Prof Nigel Crawford. The paper describes COVID-19 in children, with a focus on low-income and middle-income countries, and summarises the published literature on safety, efficacy and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in children and adolescents.

The review emphasises that at-risk groups should be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination. According to the review, COVID-19 vaccines are effective against severe COVID-19 in children and adolescents, although there is limited additional benefit in healthy children given widespread infection-derived immunity.

For more information, access the publication and accompanying MCRI news story below.

BJM Paediatrics Open: Considerations for vaccinating children against COVID-19
MCRI: COVID-19 vaccines are effective against severe cases in children