Australia’s AstraZeneca vaccine advice changes – your two-minute guide

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Australia’s AstraZeneca vaccine advice changes – your two-minute guide

  • Major change in guidelines for AstraZeneca Covid vaccine in Australia
  • ‘Rare’ but potentially fatal syndrome that leads to blood clotting responsible 
  • Pfizer vaccine now recommended in many cases, especially for under-50s

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a major change to Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout plan on Thursday evening amid findings overseas that one vaccine can cause blood clots.

That change involved the administering of AstraZeneca injections, which are no longer recommended for people aged under 50 – with Pfizer now the preferred alternative.

A ‘very rare’ but potentially fatal ‘syndrome’ that results in blood clotting in a small percentage of people was responsible for the government’s ‘precautionary’ vaccine u-turn.

AstraZeneca, which was expected to be the main type of vaccine administered in Australia, is not banned for all under 50s but is now considered unsuitable in many cases.

Australia's chief medical officer Paul Kelly (pictured left) and Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announce major changes to the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout on Thursday

Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly (pictured left) and Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announce major changes to the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout on Thursday

NEW ASTRAZENECA RECOMMENDATIONS

* The use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over AstraZeneca in Australian adults under 50 who have not already received their first AstraZeneca dose

* Australian immunisation providers should only give a first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to adults under 50 where the benefit clearly outweighs the risk

* Australians who have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious adverse events can safely be given their second dose, including those under 50

* Australians who have had blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be given a second dose

* Australia’s Department of Health further develop and refine resources for informed consent that clearly convey the AstraZeneca vaccine’s benefits and the risks

The guidelines around the use of Covid vaccine AstraZeneca in Australia significantly changed on Thursday

The guidelines around the use of Covid vaccine AstraZeneca in Australia significantly changed on Thursday

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT AUSTRALIA’S COVID-19 VACCINATION ROLLOUT?

* Rollout plan will be recalibrated and re-evaluated

* End of October timeline for every Australian to receive first vaccine dose in doubt

* Phase 1b – which includes younger adults with a medical condition or disability and frontline health workers among others – may be delayed

* Pfizer vaccine will be reprioritised for under 50s once phase 1a finishes

* Australia’s vaccine purchases under review

HOW OFTEN DO ASTRAZENECA-LINKED BLOOD CLOTS OCCUR?

* Four to six cases per million AstraZeneca vaccine doses

* One known Australian case found in a 44-year-old man admitted to hospital in Melbourne

* 25 per cent death rate in known cases

* More common among younger people

* Cause unknown

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