Existing COVID-19 vaccinations are efficient in avoiding serious sickness from the omicron variation, but they aren’t as successful in preventing transmission and mild illness as other strains, according to Australia’s Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly.

According to Kelly, three vaccine doses for the omicron form are nearly as efficient as two for the delta variant in avoiding transmission and severe disease, underscoring the need of booster injections in arresting a surge of cases in Australia.

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“That’s one of the reasons why we are seeing increases in cases but not so much of an increase in hospitalizations or other forms of severe disease,” Kelly said. “That’s exactly what we’re seeing here in Australia.”

Vaccine shortages in some Australian surgeries and pharmacies are expected to be temporary as a result of the recent acceleration of the booster programme, which made people eligible five months rather than six months after their second dose, according to vaccine rollout chief Lieutenant General John Frewen.“There’s no concern about the amount of supply,” he said.

By the end of the year, about 4 million people would have had a booster shot, up from 1.7 million before the timeframe was adjusted, according to Frewen.

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He claims that more than 4.6 million dosages are currently “sitting on shelves at GPs and pharmacies, as well as in state clinics.” He added, “In those circumstances where people have run out of supplies as a result of this increasing demand, we’re striving to send supplies to them as soon as possible.”

Daily COVID-19 instances in New South Wales, Australia’s most populated state, jumped to a record 2,213 on Friday, up from 158 a week earlier, as end-of-year celebrations spurred superspreader events in nightclubs and pubs. The number of hospitalizations is increasing, but it is still modest at 215, with 24 in intensive care.

Cases in Victoria, the country’s second-most populous state, were stable at 1,510 on Friday, with 386 hospitalised and 82 active ICU cases.