Teen COVID boosters could be ready in days

The Pfizer vaccine has been provisionally approved as a booster for 16 and 17-year-olds.
The Pfizer vaccine has been provisionally approved as a booster for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Some teenagers could be able to get a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as next week, after the medical regulator granted provisional approval for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration gave the green light on Friday for 16 and 17-year-olds to get a booster shot.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said final approval would still be needed from the country's leading vaccine advisory group, but boosters could begin for the cohort in a matter of days.

"We are hoping to receive the ATAGI advice within the next week, if not earlier, and if that's a positive then we can make this available immediately," Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra.

"It's the same vaccine in the same quantity, it's available widely, we have doses distributed that are available being drawn on daily, so if we receive advice, then it will be authorised for approval the next day."

The medical regulator said teenagers who received any type of COVID-19 vaccine would be able to get the Pfizer booster.

It comes ahead of the COVID-19 booster shot eligibility for the general population being lowered from four months since the second dose to three months, which starts on Monday.

Some states and territories have already lowered the eligibility to three months ahead of schedule.

The interval between the primary course of vaccines and the boosters will be the same for 16 and 17-year-olds as the rest of the population.

About 7.3 million Australians have received a booster dose, or 66.6 per cent of eligible people.

Mr Hunt said the dose for 16 and 17-year-olds was the same as for adults and there was enough supply for the teenagers.

"We want to encourage everybody to come forward for their booster, fortunately they are," he said.

"(Booster take up) is at a higher rate than the highest first and second dose days during August, September and October, so that, I think, is a really strong sign."

The medical regulator said it was still monitoring trials for booster doses for younger children.

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Professor Alison McMillan said young people accounted for a large number of the COVID-19 cases coming through, and boosters in the age group were critical.

"We are seeing cases in younger people. Pleasingly, we don't see them obviously in higher numbers being admitted to hospital, but there are rare occasions where we do see younger people," she said.

"I know they are often hearing people say that this is a mild disease and you shouldn't worry, but you should, and you should make sure you do all you can to protect others."

Australian Associated Press