Facebook posts have claimed Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been “quietly removed” from Australia.
The original Moderna vaccine remains provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for people six years and over. However, manufacturing of this specific vaccine is not continuing as health agencies turn their focus to bivalent and variant-specific vaccines.
The claim was made in a December 21, 2022 post (screenshot here) from the Australian Vaccination-risks Network (AVN), a vaccine-sceptic campaign group. AVN has made other false statements here, here, here and here.
“Moderna non-vaccine COVID jab quietly removed in Australia… What does this mean? We don’t know because there has been no explanation. May the other non-vaccine COVID jabs soon follow Moderna’s lead!” the December post reads.
The claim has been shared widely on social media, with other posts stating “Australia says Moderna will “no longer be available”” and “The Moderna vaccine has very, very quietly actually been withdrawn in Australia … The Moderna vaccine is no longer available in Australia as of mid-December” (video mark 28 min 15 sec).
Former federal MP Craig Kelly also spread the claim, tweeting: “Moderna NO LONGER AVAILABLE in Australia… Looks like TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] have quietly pulled the Moderna jabs from the market.”
It appears the claim has been fuelled by a screenshot of the government COVID-19 vaccine booking website. A note at the bottom of the website states: “The ‘Moderna (6-11 years)’ and ‘Moderna (12 years +)’ vaccine types will no longer be available in Australia from mid-December 2022.”
However, this note only refers to the original formula approved for those aged six years and older. The Moderna bivalent and paediatric vaccines are the first two options displayed when users click on “select a vaccine” on the same web page.
The Department of Health and Aged Care told AAP FactCheck: “The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine continues to be widely available across Australia.”
A department representative said while the original Moderna vaccine remains provisionally approved, manufacturing of this vaccine is not continuing. He added that this is because health agencies have turned their focus to bivalent and variant-specific vaccines, as the virus has continued to evolve.
“The last deliveries for the Moderna (ancestral, or original) vaccine to administration sites occurred in late November. Based on shelf-life, the Moderna (ancestral, or original) vaccine is no longer available for routine administration in Australia,” the representative added.
Both Moderna and Pfizer have developed bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, to protect against different strains of the COVID-19 virus — the original strain and Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.5, which have identical spike proteins.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation said the Moderna bivalent vaccine showed “a small increment in protection over an original booster.”
The claim that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been withdrawn from Australia is false. The Moderna bivalent vaccine and paediatric vaccine remain widely available.
The original vaccine formula, while still approved, is no longer being offered as a primary course dose for those aged six and over. Health agencies say this is because their focus has turned to vaccine formulas that protect against more recent variants.
False – The claim is inaccurate.