Overnight, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released a statement on the meaning of “up to date” in relation to COVID-19 vaccination status. In shifting language away from the notion of “fully vaccinated” and towards the idea of being “up to date”, ATAGI has recommended (for the general population) two primary doses and a booster doses at a recommended interval of 3 months from the last primary dose.
The actual statement itself makes provision for what “up to date” means in the context of different age groups, for the severely immunocompromised, and for those who are recovering from a COVID-19 infection. However, for the majority of persons, being up to date will mean getting a booster between 3 – 6 months after their last primary dose (i.e. the second dose). ATAGI has stated that getting a booster more than 6 months after the last primary dose means that a person will be considered “overdue”.
This statement has come in the wake of calls for a change in how we consider a person to be “fully vaccinated” for COVID-19. ATAGI specifically notes that while this term is widely used in the context of vaccination mandates and border control measures, “these applications may involve legal and policy implications and are not within the remit of ATAGI but should be considered in the implementation of this advice” (emphasis added).
ATAGI’s statement certainly has implications for vaccination mandates rolled out in workplaces as a health and safety control measure. Depending on the actual terms and content of a mandatory vaccination policy, employers will need to consider how the ATAGI’s statement impacts their mandatory vaccination policy and whether any amendments need to be made. If so, employers should also consider whether any amendments will trigger obligations under health and safety legislation, such as to perform a risk assessment or consult workers and their representatives.
The full statement can be accessed here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-statement-on-defining-up-to-date-status-for-covid-19-vaccination