The Shire of Katanning’s COVID-19 booster rate is lagging behind the rest of the region. Data from the Federal Department of Health shows that that while more than 95 per cent of Shire residents aged 16 and over had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Sunday, only 83.5 per cent had received a booster. Only the Shire of West Arthur, on 82.3 per cent, has a lower reported booster uptake in the Great Southern. The shires of Broomehill-Tambellup and Woodanilling are ahead of Katanning, with booster rates of 85.1 per cent and 84.8 per cent respectively. However, the Department warns that data might not be representative and should be treated with caution. The Shire of Cranbrook has a booster rate of 84.3 per cent, while the shires of Wagin and Kojonup have rates of 86.1 and 86.3 per cent. The City of Albany is leading the region for eligible residents with more than two COVID vaccine doses, with a rate of 87.5 per cent. Figures were not published for the shires of Dumbleyung, Gnowangerup, Lake Grace and Kent due to their low populations and big areas. The latest figures come after the Australian Technical Group of Immunisation recommended vulnerable cohorts be given a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to increase their protection before the winter flu season. In a statement, the ATAGI panel said their recommendation for an additional booster dose focused on protecting the most vulnerable groups against severe disease and reducing the potential burden on the healthcare system in the coming months. The vulnerable groups ATAGI believe should receive a fourth dose are adults aged 65 years and older, residents in aged or disability care, severely immunocompromised people aged 16 years and over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over. Australia’s chief health officer Professor Paul Kelly said those groups who have received their last booster four months ago would be eligible for the additional dose. “For those people over the age of 65, the good news is that you can get your flu shot and your COVID shot at the same time,” he said. “But in the meantime, don’t wait for your flu shot. Go and make that booking with your pharmacist, or with your GP or wherever you’re getting that flu shot in that age group.” The new doses will become available to eligible groups from April 4.