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The relative effectiveness of three and four doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Victoria, Australia: A data linkage study.

Canevari JT, Cheng AC, Wu L, Rowe SL, Wollersheim DE, West D, Majumdar SS, Sullivan SG

  • Journal Vaccine

  • Published 05 Dec 2023

  • Volume 42

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 53-58

  • DOI 10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.11.047


The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic led to extensive vaccination campaigns worldwide, including in Australia. Immunity waning and the emergence of new viral variants pose challenges to the effectiveness of vaccines. Our study aimed to assess the relative effectiveness (rVE) of 3 and 4 compared with 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The study focuses on the Victorian population, a majority of whom had no prior exposure to the virus before vaccination.

We used routinely collected data for the state of Victoria, Australia, to assess rVE during an Omicron-dominant period, 1 June 2022 to 1 March 2023. Immunisation, notifications, hospitalisations and mortality data for residents aged 65 years and older were linked for analysis. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to estimate the rVE against COVID-19 hospitalisation or death, accounting for key confounders with vaccination as a time-varying covariate.

In 1,070,113 people 65 years or older who had received their second dose, a third and fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine significantly reduced the hazard of hospitalisation or death compared to two doses. rVE was highest within two weeks from administration at 40 % (95 % CI: 0 % to 64 %) and 66 % (95 % CI: 60 % to 71 %) for a third and fourth dose, respectively. Additional protection conferred by third and fourth doses waned over time from administration.

Our findings underscore the need for additional vaccine doses and updated vaccine strategies. These findings have implications for public health advice and COVID-19 vaccine strategies. Further research and monitoring of vaccine effectiveness in real-world settings are warranted to inform ongoing pandemic response efforts.