Covid vaccine ad blitz ready for launch

4 minute read

Amid a growing new wave, the government wants more people lining up for their covid booster shot.

A new covid advertising campaign “to reinforce the importance and value of vaccination” will launch across Australian television screens, social media and billboards on Sunday.

Health Minister Mark Butler made the announcement in a joint press conference with Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly yesterday.

“This comes off the back of the advice that we actioned from ATAGI for an additional covid booster dose for 2023,” Mr Butler said. “If it’s been more than six months since you were infected, or six months since you had your last dose of covid vaccine, you are now able to go out and get an additional dose whether it’s your third, fourth or fifth dose to top up your protection.

“From Sunday a new, well-resourced ad campaign will roll out across all media … which will be quite a refreshed concept, with a new ad agency the government has commissioned.”

Covid case numbers in aged care homes have increased by about 65% over the past few weeks, as well a 40% rise in antiviral prescriptions and “a small uptick in hospitalisations”, according to Mr Butler.

“All of which goes to reinforce the message that this is not over,” Mr Butler said. “There will be future waves of covid across the course of this year and it is important to continue to reinforce those standard messages about remaining covid-safe.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released provisional mortality statistics for 2022, with excess deaths – the number of deaths higher than the historical average – hitting 25,235 (15.3%).

There were 707 deaths due to covid in January 2023, down from the 924 that occurred from the virus in December 2022.

A total of 9732 people died from covid in 2022, up from 855 in 2020, and 1224 in 2021.

From tomorrow, 1 April, aged care workers who contract covid but do not have leave entitlements – either because they are casuals, or if they’re permanent aged care workers without access to leave entitlements – will be able to access a support payment indirectly through their employer funded by the Commonwealth.

The new scheme replaces the high-risk settings pandemic payment, paid through Services Australia, but pays the same amount of up to $750 per week.

“Obviously, that is about providing support to those workers, but importantly, it’s also about making sure that if they contract covid there is no disincentive from them isolating and not going to work and potentially exposing residents of their aged care facility to a virus that is very dangerous for the most vulnerable members of our community in aged care.”

As reported earlier covid antiviral Paxlovid will now be available for anyone aged to 60 to 69 with mild to moderate covid and one risk factor for developing severe disease. Previously, government funding was only available if patients were 70 or over, or 50 or over with two risk factors, 30 or over and identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and have one risk factor, people 18 years of age or older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and people 18 or over older who have been previously hospitalised with covid. 

“That means about an additional 160,000 Australians in that age group will be able to access Paxlovid over the course of this year in the event of additional waves,” said Mr Butler.

Professor Kelly reported that over a million people had had a booster shot since the new ATAGI advice in January.

“Frankly, people that haven’t had those first two doses now are unlikely to have them,” he said.

“So, we’re not measuring that [any more]. We’re measuring the time since the last dose and the proportion that are eligible who have had it.

“Over a million people have already had it this year which is just terrific. In the last few weeks since that advice came from ATAGI, there has been a large increase particularly in the over 70 age group, which is exactly where we want that to be happening.”

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