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Friday, June 21, 2024

800,000+ Seniors urged to get 2nd AstraZeneca jab

More than 800,000 Australians aged 50 to 59 are being urged to get their second AstraZeneca jab, as the Government today announced a revised minimum age for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Australians aged under 60 will no longer receive first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to the rare risk of a serious blood clotting disorder among people aged 50 to 59, the Federal Health Department announced today.

Secretary of the Department, Dr Brendan Murphy today urged anyone who had already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to get their follow-up shot as planned. 

“We have had no cases of this [clotting] condition in the people who’ve had second doses in Australia,” he said. 

“And even in the UK, which has got the biggest experience, it’s a very, very, very rare incidence of probable cases that they’ve seen. 

“So it’s a completely different picture for second doses and I’d strongly encourage everyone to get that full protection. 

“You need the two doses of your vaccine to be protected.”

The Government announcement followed the Federal Government’s acceptance of advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). It had previously recommended the Pfizer vaccine to anyone under 50 years of age.

Another 2.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are due to arrive in Australia before the end of June.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly said more cases of the rare clotting syndrome were only being identified because health officials “are looking for it”.

He said the blood clot risk was far higher after the first AstraZeneca dose than the second, so anyone who had already received their first dose without any issues should continue with their second.

“We have no cases of this [blood clotting] condition in people who have had second doses in Australia,” he told media today.

“Evidence from the UK shows the rate of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after a second dose is AstraZeneca is significantly lower than for first doses.

“ATAGI’s updated advice is based on new evidence demonstrating a higher risk than originally thought of the rare blood-clotting TTS among people aged 50 to 59.  

“The COVID-19 vaccine rollout will continue, but will be adjusted as we expand the number of access points for the Pfizer vaccine.”

Australia has now recorded 60 clotting cases, with 37 confirmed and 23 marked as ‘probable’.

Of the 12 recent cases, seven occurred in people aged between 50 and 59. Sadly, two people have died.

“The Commonwealth will work closely with the states and territories, including on how their arrangements will be adjusted to offer the Pfizer vaccine to people aged 50 to 59, and to scale up as supply increases,” Professor Kelly said.

“The Department of Health is providing updated advice to general practitioners and health professionals.”

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