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Check your eligibility for booster doses and antiviral pills

Australia is witnessing a fresh wave from Omicron's new subvariants BA.5 and BA.4 this winter.

Leading epidemiologists and health experts say COVID-19 booster doses and antiviral pills significantly reduce the severity and hospitalisation risk.

Leading epidemiologists and health experts say COVID-19 booster doses and antiviral pills significantly reduce the severity and hospitalisation risk. Source: Getty/Marca Piner

Health authorities say new subvariants evade immunity from previous COVID-19 infections and vaccination. In fact, suggests reinfections are now 25 per cent of the total daily new cases reported in England and 18 per cent in .

Australian states and territories have reduced the reinfection time from 12 weeks to 28 days. It means people can be reinfected within 28 days of their previous infection. 

Prevention from new variants

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Health authorities say people can avoid catching infections and severe illness if they wear face masks, maintain social distancing, regularly sanitise hands and are up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Leading epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett says the winter booster dose reduces the serious infection risk by another two-thirds in people at the highest risk. 

A recent study by the Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev showed the fourth vaccine lowered the risk of infection by 34 per cent, hospitalisations by 65 per cent and deaths by 72 per cent of deaths in elderly Israelis. 

The current vaccine recommendation for people aged 
  • 50+ is four doses
  • 30-49 is three doses, option of 4th  
  • 16-29 is three doses  
  • 5-15 is two doses.   
A booster or third dose is recommended for 12 to 15 years old if they are are severely immunocompromised or have a disability with significant or complex health needs.

A fourth dose is also available for people who have received a third or the first booster dose three months ago and are: 
  • 30 years or older
  • A resident of an aged care or disability care facility
  • Severely immunocompromised
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and aged 50 years and older
  • 16 years or older with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness
  • 16 years or older with a disability
Treatment for COVID-19 positive cases

Antiviral medicines stop a virus from infecting healthy cells or multiplying in the body. 

Health authorities advise taking these antiviral COVID-19 medications (lagevrio and paxlovid) as soon as the symptoms begin, usually within five days. The pills reduce the severity of COVID-19 and lower the hospitalisation risk. 

These pills are currently available to people who test positive for COVID-19 and are:
Aged 70 and over
  1. Aged 50 with two or more risk factors for severe disease
  2. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 30 and over with two or more risk factors for severe disease
  3. Immunocompromised people over 18 may also be eligible.
Eligible residents have been advised to consult with their GPs through telehealth if they test positive. The oral pills cost under $10 for concession card holders and $45 for other eligible people on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

SBS is committed to providing all COVID-19 updates to Australia’s multicultural and multilingual communities. Stay safe and stay informed by visiting regularly the .

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3 min read
Published 18 July 2022 at 3:07pm, updated 4 August 2022 at 2:32pm
By Sahil Makkar