The Moderna Vax Has Been Approved For Australia: Here’s What You Need To Know

As Australia continues to grapple with its disastrous vaccine rollout amidst a growing outbreak of the delta variant, it’s now been announced that the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved provisional use of a fourth Covid-19 vaccine, developed by Moderna. Already in use across huge populations around the world, Moderna will soon be made available here in Australia. With AstraZeneca currently in use here in Australia and the Pfizer vaccine also slowly making its rollout across the country, Moderna will provide enough vaccine doses for five million Australians. 

Formally called mRNA-1273, the Moderna vaccine is made using a similar process as the highly effective Pfizer vaccine. Like Pfizer and AstraZeneca, Moderna is a two-dose vaccine, and the second jab is usually received 28 days after the first. With one million doses set to become available in September, and another three million in October, November and December, it could just be the answer to our vaccine supply woes. As John Skerrit, Head of TGA, told reporters, “Even after six months it is proving to be 93 per cent efficacious against any infection, 98 per cent against severe disease and 100 per cent against death and that’s really exciting.”

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about the Moderna vaccine, including when it will be available here in Australia, side effects, who can get it and if it’s safe for young people. 

When will the Moderna vaccine be available in Australia?

As ABC reports, “Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the first 3 million doses were on track to arrive in September and those doses would go to pharmacies. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on Monday granted provisional approval to the Moderna mRNA vaccine for use in Australians aged 18 and over.”

The publication adds, “Provisional approval fast-tracks the use of a medication under strict conditions while a pharmaceutical company completes its final clinical trials. This pathway is reserved for promising life-saving medicine and can reduce the wait time for a drug by up to two years, the TGA says.”

How many doses of the Moderna vaccinae are required?

Like AstraZeneca and Pfizer, the Moderna vaccine requires two doses to fortify your immune system against Covid-19. The doses are recommended to be administered four weeks apart, compared to the three-week interval between Pfizer shots and the eight to 12 week length between AstraZeneca shots, a period which is shortened to between four and eight weeks for people in severely affected areas such as Sydney. 

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Who will get the Moderna shot?

According to the TGA, Australians aged over 18 can get the Moderna vaccine, however the federal government is yet to set any eligibility requirements for it. Of the 25 million doses Australia has ordered, 10 million will be for primary vaccination and 15 million will be for booster shots. 

It’s important to note that Moderna’s vaccine uses the same mRNA technology as the Pfizer vaccine and has not been associated with the extremely rare blood clotting disorder that a small number of people have developed after receiving the AstraZeneca jab. Therefore, many believe the rollout of Moderna could allow younger Australians to choose which vaccine they want to receive as eligibility opens up. 

What is the efficacy?

According to the World Health Organisation, studies have shown Moderna’s vaccine is 94.1 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19. Moderna says its shot remains 93 per cent effective six months after the second dose. More importantly, all vaccines provide extremely good protection against hospitalisation and death and as we’ve seen from the recent delta variant, death due to Covid is no longer confined to older age groups and the vulnerable. 

Is Moderna safe for pregnant women and young people?

According to the World Health Organisation, inoculation with the Moderna vaccine is suitable for pregnant women where the benefits outweigh the risks. The current health advice in Australia is that women be offered the Pfizer vaccine at any stage of pregnancy. 

Like Pfizer, the Moderna shot is expected to also be approved for children aged 12 and older, but that will have to happen through a separate process, according to the ABC. Moderna has also flagged Australia as a potential site for vaccine trials in children as young as six months, but little details have been discussed regarding the trials. 

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Which other countries have authorised the Moderna vaccine?

The Moderna vaccine has been approved and used in a number of countries for months. Already, the US, UK, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Israel, Indonesia, Singapore, Pakistan and India have been administering the Moderna vaccine. 

What are the common side effects?

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has reported a range of minor side effects experienced by Moderna shot recipients, but also note that side effects have been more common after the second dose of the vaccine. These include a fever, chills, pain at the injection site, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, headache, swollen lymph nodes or nausea and vomiting. 

Where is it manufactured?

Moderna is a US company and its vaccine is manufactured in the United States before being shipped around the world. Lonza, a Swiss manufacturer, also produces the Moderna vaccine for European markets. 

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