A massive blow for Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout overnight, with the government changing its advice on the AstraZeneca doses.
The Prime Minister and health officials held a snap press conference late last night, advising those under 50 NOT to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
It comes after Europe issued similar advice for those under 30, over concerns the jab is linked to an increased risk of blood clots.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison admits this advice will mean our national rollout strategy will need to be recalibrated, but couldn’t yet say exactly what effect this will have.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says those under 50 can still get the Pfizer vaccine.
“The use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine in adults aged less than 50 years who have not already received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said.
“This is based both on the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age and thus increased benefit of the vaccination, and the potentially lower, but not zero risk, of this rare event with increasing age.
“Immunisation providers should only give a first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to adults under 50 years of age where benefit clearly outweighs the risk for that individual’s circumstances,” Doctor Kelly said.
Despite the updated advice, we are still being assured the blood clot risk is extremely low.
“I think we need to have faith in our regulator,” Infectious Disease Expert Paul Griffin told The Today Show this morning.
“They’ve exercised that abundance of caution for us and the thing to keep in mind is while with increasing cases it is looking increasingly linked to the vaccine it is extremely rare,
we’re talking a few cases per million doses and the majority of those people will survive and recover from this so it is something that’s exceedingly rare.
“It shouldn’t undermine our confidence overall. We should have faith in the decision to show that abundance of caution and restrict to the younger population and come up with viable alternatives in the future,” he said.
The vaccine rollout is now expected to be top priority for this morning’s National Cabinet meeting, as officials work on a new rollout strategy.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that officials were going to work through the night to figure out a new plan.
“There are, of course, Pfizer vaccines that are in Australia, and we are getting a regular supply of those,” he said.
“They can be prioritised against the individuals for whom that will be the more appropriate vaccine for them.
“But we will just have to work through the logistics of that and the calibration of how that is done,” Mr Morrison said.