Addressing the question and evidence of booster vaccines – Professor Rhonda Stuart

Last Tuesday at the employee forum, Professor Rhonda Stuart, Director, South East Public Health Unit and Director, Infection Prevention and Epidemiology at Monash Health presented on the topic of COVID-19 booster vaccines.

In her presentation, Professor Stuart confirmed at this stage of the vaccination program, booster vaccines are not yet indicated for the general community, although a 3-dose primary vaccine course may be important for those who are immunosuppressed.

“There is no current evidence that boosters are required. We need to ensure we have good evidence to suggest they are required before they are administered.”

When discussing the benefits of the vaccine, Professor Stuart explained that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine creates higher antibody levels than natural infection from COVID-19. She also outlined how, after receiving the vaccine, our bodies create a memory that provides us with protection from severe disease.

“The vaccine creates a higher and long-lasting antibody level to that which occurs through natural infection. It is important to remember that the antibody level that is detected in the lab may not actually detect your protection against severe disease.

When we are immunised, our body creates our own memory. When our body sees the virus again, our antibody levels increase.”

The only exception to the current evidence on boosters is individuals who are immunosuppressed. These individuals may benefit from a third dose which is technically not a booster but a 3-dose primary vaccination schedule. This will be further supported by ongoing studies.

As the vaccination program continues to develop, Professor Stuart says the primary focus is on vaccinating the population and addressing the need for boosters as the evidence becomes available in the future.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated, please go and do so while vaccines are available.

Vaccination prevents against severe disease and dying from COVID-19 – this is what we are trying to protect everyone against.”

All Monash Health employees are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. You do not require a booking at a Monash Health clinic, please bring your employee ID and Medicare card with you. Further details with opening hours and locations of our clinics can be found on the employee vaccination bookings page.

If you would like to book in advance, please visit the Victorian Government vaccination site or call 1800 675 398 between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week.

For more information and the latest advice on the COVID-19 vaccination program visit the SEPHU website.

 

Approved by Professor Rhonda Stuart.



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