COVID-19

What vaccine fallout means for you

This follows the UK concluding there is a link between the vaccine and rare blood-clotting events. Here’s all you need to know. What are the new recommendations? The Pfizer vaccine is now recommended over AstraZeneca jab in people aged under 50 who have not already received their first dose. People aged under 50 should only be given a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine where benefit clearly outweighs the risk for that individual.People that have already had their first dose without any serious adverse events can safely be given their second dose. People who have had blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose should not be given a second dose.The Health Department has updated its information for informed consent that clearly conveys the benefits and the risks of the AstraZeneca vaccine for both immunisation providers and consumers of all ages. When did the advice change? Australia’s drug and immunisation experts gave their advice to the government on Thursday night. What prompted this?The UK and European drug regulators have been investigating a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare blood-clotting event. The UK on Wednesday announced it would no longer be giving people aged under 30 the AstraZeneca vaccine because the benefits versus the risks were more finely balanced compared with older people. Australian medical experts had already been reviewing information about the link and on Thursday handed down their findings. Why is the uk’s advice under 30 but ours is under 50? Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the decision about the age group was made based on local circumstances.“The choice by the medical advisory group is 50,” Professor Kelly said. “That’s based on that risk-benefit equation for the Australian circumstances.”Is the vaccine still safe and effective? Yes. Medical experts have reiterated that AstraZeneca is safe for people in aged care residences and older Australians in priority groups.What is the chance of getting a rare blood clot following the vaccine? Only one person in Australia has had blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose. The rate of the rare blood-clotting event occurs in four to six people per million doses of vaccine. It’s only been found in the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, usually within four to 10 days after that vaccine. But it can cause up to a 25 per cent death rate.Isn’t there a higher chance of getting blood clots from other medicines, such as the oral contraceptive pill?Yes. Seven to 10 women in 10,000 will get a blood clot. I’m aged under 50 and yet to get the vaccine. what are my alternatives? The only other vaccine being given in Australia right now is the Pfizer vaccine. The nation has a supply deal with Novavax but that is still undergoing testing. Authorities are now reviewing all their options. Do we have enough Pfizer vaccines? The short answer is no. Australia has an order for 20 million Pfizer vaccines, which would cater for 10 million people. Does that mean rollout delays? The rollout is now being re-evaluated. Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy said healthcare workers under 50 will now be prioritised to Pfizer vaccine. “That might delay that particular phase of 1b, but that is the only phase that might be delayed,” he said.Will we all still get our first jab by October?Scott Morrison had committed to everyone getting their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by October. On Thursday night, he remained tight-lipped on whether the October goal had been dumped, saying it was “too early” to understand the implications.Will domestic manufacturing of the AstraZeneca vaccine continue? Yes. CSL will continue to manufacture up to one million doses a week. What does this mean for international borders? State and territory leaders will discuss the reopening of Australia and its borders during a national cabinet meeting on Friday. Where can I get more information on vaccines?The Department of Health website. NED-3560 Vaccine Rollout in Australia

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