This article was first published in Star Weekly Melton & Moorabool on 18 August 2022.
Residents from across the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne are delaying their fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, according to health professionals working in the area.
Doctors have reported that some patients are putting off receiving the vaccine as they have heard that a better version, which is more targeted toward the dominant Omicron strain, is in development.
Health professionals have said while another vaccine is on the way, it won’t be available in Australia for many more months.
Altona North Medical Group GP Dr Mukesh Haikerwal said he’d observed that people’s will to get the vaccine had definitely “dropped off”.
“A whole bunch of people haven’t had their third jab at all, many of them are coming in positive now,” he said.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) issued a provisional determination to Moderna and Pfizer to start approvals for an Omicron-specific vaccine earlier this year.
Dr Haikerwal acknowledged the development of a new vaccine was not cause for people to delay their vaccination, as the new version wouldn’t be available until at least the end of the year.
“If [people] are more than three months from their last jab, their immunity has dropped and it’s valuable to get that fourth jab in,” he said.
North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network chief executive Christopher Carter said that approving a new vaccine was a rigorous, time-consuming process and that people should not wait for it to be ready.
“It’s a long time to go without the maximum available protection, which you can get now, from your GP or pharmacist or vaccination centre, for free,” Mr Carter said.
Western Public Health Unit acting director Dr Charles Alpren said vaccination was the best defence against becoming severely unwell with COVID-19.
“With lots of virus still circulating in our community, we are urging Victorians not to delay getting their fourth dose.
“The best vaccine is the one you can get now.”