New pick imminent to replace Health Minister Greg Hunt

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Australia will find out who will replace outgoing health minister Greg Hunt before voting day, the prime minister has confirmed.

Mr Hunt, who led Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic response, is not recontesting his seat, leaving the government absent a locked-in health minister in the case of their re-election. 

But with Prime Minister Scott Morrison seizing on uncertainty around Labor’s potential cabinet, he said his pick for health minister would be made within the next week or so.

“I’m taking my team forward at the election. They’re a proven team,” he said when asked about the security of the rest of his cabinet.

“My strong united team I led for the last three years, sitting around that cabinet table … has seen Australia lead the world with its recovery (from the pandemic).” 

But while Australians now know when they are heading to the polls, the future remains less certain for children wondering when they will be eligible for their COVID-19 booster shot. 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Friday gave provisional advice for 12 to 15-year-olds to receive their third vaccine six months after their second.

But the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has not followed suit on the recommendation.

“Current data suggest COVID-related serious illness is very rare in adolescents aged 12-15, particularly after completion of a primary series of COVID-19 vaccination,” ATAGI said.

“At this time, ATAGI does not recommend that adolescents aged 12-15 years need to receive a booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“ATAGI will continue to review and consider new evidence on the benefits and risks of any additional doses in 12-15 year olds, including for those with underlying medical conditions.”

ATAGI said it still strongly recommends all children aged five to 15 receive two vaccines, while those who are immunocompromised require a third dose.

Only Australians aged 16 and over continue to have access to a booster shot. 

As of Saturday, almost 70 per cent of the eligible population, or more than 13.1 million people in total, had received their booster.

More than 44,000 new COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths have been recorded across the country so far on Sunday.

LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA FROM ACROSS AUSTRALIA:

NSW: 15,683 cases, eight deaths, 1492 in hospital, 56 in ICU

Victoria: 9510 cases, one death, 356 in hospital, 16 in ICU

Tasmania: 1414 cases, one death, 42 in hospital, one in ICU

ACT: 795 cases, no deaths, 62 in hospital, three in ICU

Queensland: 7154 cases, one death, 500 in hospital, 15 in ICU

WA: 5351 cases, two deaths, 234 in hospital, 10 in ICU

SA: 4222 cases, one death, 222 in hospital, 11 in ICU

NT: 394 cases, no deaths, 33 in hospital, one in ICU.

By Dominic Giannini and Tara Cosoleto in Canberra, AAP

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