Johnson and Johnson vaccine investigated for rare blood clot side effect


The European drug regulator has revealed it is reviewing rare blood clots suffered by recipients of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the United States.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it was investigating four serious cases but it was unclear at this stage if the clots were related to the vaccine or another medical issue.

Three of the cases occurred during the US rollout where nearly five million had been given the vaccine by Thursday, while one was during a clinical trial.

In one of the cases, the person died from the complication.

Johnson and Johnson said it was aware of the review and was working with regulators to assess the issue, but insisted “no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine”.

The major pharmaceutical’s jab is currently only available in the US and was scheduled to be issued in the European Union in coming weeks.

Australia has not yet committed to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine but the complication comes amid concerns with the AstraZeneca shot, which is threatening to derail confidence in the rollout.

Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, an epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales, insisted the extremely rare complications in each of the vaccines far outweighed the threat of COVID-19.

“It’s all about putting into proportion the risk of death to our elderly group who represent 100 per cent of all coronavirus deaths in Australia,” she told NCA NewsWire.

“They only die if they get COVID, so to keep them from getting infected we have to ring-fence them.

“In the context of a pandemic, there’s this enormous risk of this older group dying so you want to protect them by vaccinating everybody, but particularly the young ones who have a greater risk of acquiring it and transmitting it.”

Despite Australia not yet committing to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the hiccup from the EMA this week threatens to complicate an already increasing supply issue across the globe.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday refused to commit to the nation’s jab rollout being completed this year as Professor McLaws offered a far more gloomy timeline — she expects delays to vaccine supply leading to Australia’s borders remaining closed up until the end 2022.

The AstraZeneca shot won’t be offered to Australians under the age of 50 following advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, which will free-up supply for the older cohort.

“So now that we have less people requiring AstraZeneca, we’ve got a little bit more (supply) space,” the professor said.

“But if we want to open up anytime soon next year, that supply of AstraZeneca is going to have to be increased to get people vaccinated in time because there’s a three-month delay between the first and the second shot.

“So just because fewer people need it, doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet because the government is going to have to run two cohorts and they’re going to have to match the speed so we can open up our borders.”



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Scott Morrison pays tribute to Duke of Edinburgh


The Prime Minister has extended his “deepest sympathies and condolences” to Queen Elizabeth following the death of Prince Philip.

Scott Morrison described news of the loss as a “very sad day”, crediting the Duke of Edinburgh for a lifetime of duty and service.

He said Prince Philip was widely admired for his “candour, and a unique, forceful and authentic personality”.

“With his passing, we say farewell to another of the greatest generation,” the Prime Minister said on Saturday morning from Kirribilli House.

“But above all, today, we think of our Queen.

“While your strength and stay, your Majesty, may now have passed, Jenny and I pray that you will find great comfort in your faith and your family at this time.

But we also, your Majesty, say to you as a Commonwealth, let us also now be your strength and stay, as you continue to endure, as you continue to serve so loyally and so faithfully, as you have done over so many generations.”

RELATED: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, dead at 99

At noon London time on Friday, the Royal Family released a statement.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.

“Further announcements will made in due course.

“The Royal Family joins with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

Governor-General Hurley, the Queen’s representative in Australia, said it was his “solemn and melancholy duty” to announce the death to Australians.

“As we mourn, we should also reflect and give thanks for His Royal Highness’ lifetime of service, devotion and commitment.

“And commitment to the Commonwealth and the many hundreds of organisations – including many here in Australia – of which he served as Patron and for whom he was a passionate advocate and supporter.”

Mr Hurley said Prince Philip had visited Australia 21 times.

“He was a popular, engaged and welcome visitor to our shores,” the Governor-General said.

“His impact was profound – not least on the more than 775,000 young Australians who have participated in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award since it began here in 1959.

“On behalf of the Australian people, I extend our deepest condolences to Her Majesty and family, the people of the Commonwealth and to all those who share in this sad news.”



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Australian GP clinics accused of ‘discrimination’ in COVID-19 vaccination rollout


A veteran who spent 20 years in the air force and was injured during his service says he cannot find a GP to give him the COVID-19 vaccine because clinics are only taking bookings from their own patients.

Hobart resident Christopher Potts comes under the government’s 1b vaccination group and is eligible to be vaccinated, but he told news.com.au he is being discriminated against because his GP is not part of the vaccine rollout.

Mr Potts said he had tried to get online bookings and had also rung four or five different clinics to book in a vaccination but had been unsuccessful. At least two surgeries have told him they were taking bookings only from their own patients.

Mr Potts’ own GP runs a small one-doctor surgery and has not signed up for the program.

“What this boils down to is I am being discriminated against because my doctor isn’t part of the program,” he said.

“I can’t get vaccinated because surgeries are only looking after their own patients – no outsiders.”

His wife’s relatives also told Mr Potts they were specifically contacted by their own GP clinics to book them in for a vaccination, in another example of how clinics are prioritising their own patients.

Mr Potts is 67 years old, has diabetes and is considered Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) due to injuries stemming from his time in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) including seven spinal infusions.

“I am a TPI veteran who like many others, have given their bodies and health to defending our nation and our democracy, yet no one is looking after us with regards to the vaccine,” Mr Potts said.

RELATED: Frustration over Australia’s slow vaccine rollout

“I have emailed the Prime Minister, Health Minister and Veterans’Affairs Minister pointing out that myself and other veterans are being discriminated against just because we have a different doctor. In two weeks, I have heard nothing.

“I even suggested that perhaps as we are military veterans, maybe we could be vaccinated at military health establishments, after all it was as a result of our military service that we are in the 1b cohort.”

Mr Potts said the situation was making him feel insecure and abandoned.

“I’m really worried. I have high blood pressure and I’m not in good health,” he said.

“I feel like it’s so dangerous with this virus and the Government is not helping at all.”

Mr Potts said he would happy to be treated like any other person who is part of phase 1b, and be allowed to make a vaccination booking if one was available.

For now he is continually refreshing the website to look for new clinics as they come online so he can try to make a booking.

About 4000 clinics across Australia have signed up to be part of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, although only about 1000 are currently providing vaccinations.

University of NSW Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, who is a member of a WHO advisory panel on COVID-19, said what was happening to Mr Potts was “not right”.

“He has an equal right to get a vaccination as those clinics’ patients,” Prof McLaws told news.com.au.

She said Australia also had a moral obligation to look after former members of the defence forces, just as it had an obligation to look after other frontline personnel including police or health workers.

“They may not be active but as a show of strength and support for them, many who come home with PTSD and other conditions, surely we should make sure they are looked after?”

News.com.au asked the Australian Medical Association (AMA) whether it was appropriate for GP clinics to refuse to take bookings from people who are not current patients.

AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy, who is a GP in Adelaide, said in a statement: “The relationship between a patient and their GP is incredibly important to ongoing health care.

“Not all practices have the capacity to take part in the COVID vaccine rollout, and they can refer their patients to a respiratory clinic or another practice which has the ability to administer the vaccine.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt was contacted for comment but the inquiry was passed on to the Health Department.

A department spokeswoman said people could receive the vaccine from GPs, Commonwealth Respiratory Clinics and Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations.

“Commonwealth Respiratory Clinics are able to be accessed by all eligible Australians regardless of whether they have an existing relationship with the patient,” she said.

She said there were three respiratory clinics in Tasmania at St Helens, Launceston and Derwent Park, which is close to one of the clinics Mr Potts tried to access.

“The number of services coming online will progressively increase in number between now and the end of April – as the Phase 1B vaccine roll-out progresses,” she said.

“By the end of the week, there were will be approximately 3000 general practices, Commonwealth respiratory clinics and Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, increasing coverage and vaccine availability across Australia.”

She said Australians could locate clinics through the Vaccine Eligibility Checker and Clinic Finder, which is continuously updated as more clinics join the rollout.

charis.chang@news.com.au | @charischang2





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Vaccinated Aussies could avoid hotel quarantine


Australians who are vaccinated against COVID-19 could be able to travel overseas without going into hotel quarantine or even being asked to quarantine at home.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that the health advisory committee had been tasked by the national cabinet to come up with a blueprint on options.

“What we are asking the medical expert panel to tell us is what are the thresholds that we need to be able to meet to do things such as the following – Australians who are vaccinated being able to travel overseas and return to Australia and not go into hotel quarantine, potentially not even into home quarantine at all,’’ the Prime Minister said.

“That will be a major change and to extent to which Australians returning from overseas who have had recognised vaccines also approved here in Australia with appropriate accreditation can return to Australia on that same basis and to enable potentially down the track travel from low-risk countries with similar vaccine arrangements.

“No one is saying that any of those things are coming in today but what we are working and planning for and have tasked the medical professionals who advise us on is what are the marks we have to meet to enable us to start opening up Australia more than we are now?”

Australia has already established a ‘travel bubble’ with New Zealand that was finalised in the last week and the PM hinted Singapore could be next.

“That will give us a greater deal of confidence about when we can move to other countries,’’ the PM said.

“I have mentioned Singapore before as an obvious next choice but at this stage it is still some time away. The message from the National Cabinet is we want to open up more, we want to do it safely, we want to ease restrictions, we want to do that in a consistent way across the country.”

There has been some speculation that in the early days of the international border reopening that priority will be given to business travellers and international students ahead of holidaymakers.

“You’re right, the risk may be such you may limit it to exempt categories,’’ the PM said.

“And that would be the sort of thing we would currently allow people to travel for, which is occurring right now, but that could be done with greater confidence because of the vaccination and when they return they may not then have to take up valuable places in hotel quarantine.

“Or it could be more broad as you say. But I can tell you one thing..the more Australians who are vaccinated, the more likelihood there is of being able to have the types of arrangements that I mentioned. If the vaccination population is lower, then that of course limits to options of borders, and of the other things that we’ve spoken about. So all of those options are on the table.”



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Qld aged care worker given wrong second dose of COVID-19 vaccine


Queensland health authorities have confirmed that an aged care worker received the wrong second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The woman was given a Pfizer dosage for her first jab but received AstraZeneca for the second this week, not realising the error until she was given a pamphlet after the injection.

The employee of the Ipswich aged care facility, west of Brisbane, was monitored for an hour by healthcare professionals at the clinic before being sent home with an ice pack for a headache, 9 News reported.

She was told to watch for any adverse reactions and to call an ambulance if she became unwell.

On Friday afternoon, Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young confirmed the woman had received the wrong dosage.

“I’m sure the place where it happened will look at how that occurred, but she’s fine today, which is very good news,” she told reporters.

The mix-up comes after the Prime Minister on Thursday night revealed new medical advice for the AstraZeneca jab, recommending Australians under 50 not receive the vaccine due to the rare possibility of blood clots.

Scott Morrison said the guidance was based on advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

The AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be issued to those when the benefits outweigh the risks of the deadly virus.

Those include elderly Australians, who are more likely to become seriously ill from coronavirus than young people.

Administration of the Pfizer vaccine will not be affected.

ATAGI considered evidence from colleagues in Europe, where there were a small but concerning number of cases where people developed blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.



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What went wrong as rollout paused in NSW


Our vaccine rollout should be hitting its peak right now – instead health authorities are scrambling after rare blood clots caused by the AstraZeneca jab meant millions of Aussies can no longer receive it.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a snap press conference last night to reveal the AstraZeneca jab would no longer be given to any Australian under the age of 50.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) received evidence from colleagues in Europe that showed there was a small but concerning number of cases where people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine have developed blood clots.

Around four to six people out of every million have become sick after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The evidence led to ATAGI advising everyone under the age of 50 yet to be vaccinated to receive an alternative to the AstraZeneca shot, which currently would leave the Pfizer vaccine and their only option.

RELATED: Question PM can’t answer about AstraZeneca issue

RELATED: Australia reacts to drastic change to COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Mr Morrison was at pains to calm concerns Australia could remain shut off to the rest of the world for years if the population remained largely unvaccinated.

Asked last night if there was a rough timetable for everyone to be vaccinated, he cut off the question.

“No, we don’t. No, we don’t. We’ve learnt this evening, and I think we have to take the time to assess the implications for the program.

“When we’ve done that, we may be able to form a view. But I don’t think anyone should expect that any time soon. This will take some time to work through the implications.”

Australia was supposed to be ‘at the front of the queue’

As the world’s vaccine race began to heat up last year, Mr Morrison repeatedly told Australians the nation was “at the front of the queue” when it came to getting supply first.

The Federal Government also repeatedly said it was securing millions of doses of various vaccines to ensure we weren’t putting “all our eggs in one basket”.

But the Government only ordered 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for 10 million Australians to get their two doses. And of those, only around a million have arrived on our shores.

Meanwhile talks with Moderna, which developed another vaccine that has been successfully rolled out across the US and parts of Europe, broke down last year.

Australia is still expecting 51 million Novavax jabs later in the year and is looking to see if it can bring other vaccines forward.

But the delays meant Australia was relying heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Firstly, because the logistics around transporting and administering the AstraZeneca vaccine was much easier than Pfizer, which needs to be kept at a temperature of -70C.

Secondly, the vaccine could be manufactured locally, at the CSL facility in Melbourne.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd took aim at the various promises made by the Morrison Government on Twitter today.

“So many questions still unanswered,” Mr Rudd said.

Despite the issues around the AstraZeneca vaccine, CSL in Melbourne will continue with its manufacturing.

Federal Health Secretary Brendan Murphy said last night the nation was still desperate for AstraZeneca and the jabs were perfectly safe for older Australians.

“We still have a big need for AstraZeneca. It is going to be a really important vaccine to vaccinate a significant proportion of the population,” Mr Murphy said.

“So they will continue to make AstraZeneca.”

Australia’s vaccine program plagued by issues

Mr Morrison’s press conference last night wasn’t the first time he was forced to admit things had changed with the nation’s vaccine rollout.

Earlier this week, Mr Morrison denied he had criticised the European Union after 3.1 million doses already ordered by Australia were stuck overseas.

“Any suggestion that I, in any way, made any criticism of the European Union yesterday would be completely incorrect,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

“I simply stated a fact – that 3.1 million of the contracted vaccines that we had been relying upon in early January when we’d set out a series of targets did not turn up in Australia. That is just a simple fact.”

Australia was planning on vaccinating four million people by the end of March – but only around one million people have received the jab.

Labor senator Kristina Keneally this morning lashed Mr Morrison for the “debacle”.

“Quite frankly, Scott Morrison should have been securing more vaccine deals earlier last year. The Government failed to do that,” she told the ABC.

“We heard from the Government, for months and months and months, nothing is wrong here, it’s all going fine, all going to plan. Well, they didn’t get the four million Australians vaccinated by the end of March, like they promised.

“Australia is not at the front of the queue, globally, like Scott Morrison promised.

“We have seen problems with securing enough vaccines for Australians. And now we have a Prime Minister who late last night revealed that the main vaccine we have in Australia, the AstraZeneca vaccine, is not recommended by medical experts for people under the age of 50.

“Now, this does change the game for Australia and not in a good way. Because while we are lucky we don’t have high rates of community transmission at the moment, we know that can change.”

Ms Keneally said it would impact those in the tourism industry and those hoping borders would open.

“This just means that Australians are going to wait months and months, possibly even another year, before life resembles anything like normal. That failure sits on Scott Morrison’s head,” she said.

Leading infectious diseases expert and director of the Doherty Institute Sharon Lewin said the loss of the AstraZeneca vaccine would change things.

“The plans to redirect Pfizer to the under 50s is a very good one, but it will slow things down,” she said.

“But these things have to be done. We have to ensure that a vaccine program is safe.

“There’s always small risks and this risk is really small. These have to be done. I think people should reassured that the Government is actually responding to new data and we’ll be getting new data.

“It’s a difficult thing to deal with and understand but we’ll be getting new data on all these vaccines as the rollouts progress.”

Mr Morrison this afternoon revealed Australia had secured 20 million more Pfizer vaccines – but the supply would not be available before the fourth quarter of 2021.

The Prime Minister said Australia would now have access to a total of 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine this year.

“The Australian Government has secured overnight an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in line with the advice of the scientific advisory group on vaccines,” Mr Morrison said on Friday.

“It is anticipated that these additional 20 million doses will be available in quarter four of this year.

“We will obviously be doing everything we can to seek to move that forward where we can but that is very welcome news.”



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Huge number of Aussies hit by AstraZeneca vaccine bungle


The true number of Australians hit by shock revelations about the AstraZeneca vaccine has been made clear as the government scrambles to develop an alternative rollout strategy.

Top medical experts on Thursday night recommended that AstraZeneca no longer be given to people aged under 50 after rare blood clots were linked to the vaccine.

New figures released last month reveal more than 11.2 million Australians aged 18-49 are affected by the damning health advice.

This is about 43 per cent of Australia’s population of 25.7 million, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

RELATED: What AstraZeneca vaccine fallout means for you

The updated health advice could derail the vaccine rollout plan, as the majority of the population were expected to get the jab because it could be manufactured onshore.

People aged under 50 should only be given a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine when benefit clearly outweighs the risk for that individual.

Instead, experts now recommend that the Pfizer vaccine be given to people aged under 50.

Scott Morrison on Friday announced that Australia had secured an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The move doubles the number of Pfizer doses available, which had previously been well short of the new-found demand, to 40 million.

Australia has an agreement for 51 million doses of the Novavax jab, which was not due until later this year, prompting the government to urgently assess its options.

RELATED: ScoMo blasted over vaccine ‘debacle’

Health Minister Greg Hunt said 872,000 Pfizer vaccines had been delivered so far.

“We have seen, so far, very consistent, very reliable imports of Pfizer,” Mr Hunt told Sky News.

“The full 20 million is expected during the course of this year.

“It is due to step up in number over the course of April and due to step up again in May.”

Australia’s chief health officer Paul Kelly said the AstraZeneca vaccine was “perfectly safe” for older Australians in the rollout priority groups.

He reinforced that the blood-clotting event linked with the vaccine was “very rare” and had been detected in up to six people per million.

Only one person in Australia has been found to have blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose.

People who have already had their first dose without any serious adverse effects can safely be given their second dose.



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Possible COVID case at Sydney Airport


Urgent testing is underway after an airline crew member’s “possible COVID-19 case” halted a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles.

The American Airlines flight was scheduled to depart Sydney just after 9am on Friday but was postponed due to a “possible COVID-19 case in a flight crew member”.

“The crew member was tested as part of routine surveillance. They are currently in special health accommodation,” NSW Health said in a statement.

Health officials are now waiting for the results of urgent blood tests to determine if this potential case is a historical infection.

Other crew on-board the AA72 flight are considered close contacts and are in quarantine in a Sydney hotel.

“There is no risk to the broader community,” NSW Health said.

It is unclear if the crew member tested positive or returned an inconclusive result. It is also unclear whether they had symptoms of COVID-19.

NSW Health has been contacted for further comment.

Meanwhile, NSW has paused administration of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after the federal government received urgent medical advice relating to a rare but dangerous blood clotting side effect.

The state’s health department said in a statement on Friday it had temporarily put AstraZeneca vaccinations on hold in order to update “informed consent information” given to recipients ahead of their jabs.

For those aged over 50, the pause will only last for a few hours before jabs become available again.

That’s in accordance with the advice received by the Commonwealth government from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on Thursday night.

The federal government was advised the AstraZeneca vaccine should be given to people where the benefits outweigh the risks.

Those would include older people, for whom the risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus was greater than for young people.



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PM Morrison says there is no ban on AstraZeneca vaccine


Scott Morrison has stressed no ban had been implemented on the AstraZeneca vaccine after health authorities slapped a warning on the jab for people under 50.

The government’s rollout plan has been plunged into chaos over revelations the AstraZeneca jab, which had been set to account for most vaccinations in Australia, was linked to a rare but deadly form of blood clotting.

Mr Morrison announced on Thursday night authorities had recommended the Pfizer vaccine as the preferred jab for 11.2 million Australians aged between 18 and 49.

But speaking after a meeting of national cabinet on Friday, the Prime Minister stressed there was no blanket ban on the jab for that age group.

“There was no instruction not to take that vaccine. There is an acknowledgment of the risk that is there, but as is the case always with these matters these are decisions for Australians,” he said.

He declared the government’s priority remained completing phase 1A and 1B of the rollout, the bulk of which was made up of people over 50.

“This is important because the goal here is to protect the most vulnerable in our community,” he said.

“If we want to treat COVID-19 like the flu then we need to ensure that we’re vaccinating those in our community who are most vulnerable.

“The most vulnerable people in our community are not just over 50, they are actually a lot older than that.

“The AstraZeneca vaccine is well suited to address those critical vulnerable groups.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt claimed plans for the early stages of Australia’s rollout remained “largely unchanged” by Thursday’s development.

Mr Morrison also confirmed national cabinet had agreed on more transparent daily and weekly reporting of vaccination figures, including a state-by-state breakdown.

The federal government’s previous reporting system had been criticised as opaque.

The meeting of federal, state, and territory leaders also agreed to the principles of Australia COVID-19 management and reopening strategy, Mr Morrison revealed.

He said that would include advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee that ticketed and seated gatherings could hold a full capacity, while keeping internal borders open would remain a priority.

“The message from national cabinet is: we want to open up more, we want to do it safely, we want to ease restrictions, we want to do that in a consistent way across the country,” Mr Morrison said.

“We want to do that because we know we are not just managing the health, but we are managing the economics as well for people’s livelihoods and wellbeing.

“This is going to be an ongoing and increasing focus of the national cabinet.”

Mr Morrison confirmed Australia had bought an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, taking its total order to 40 million.



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Australia AstraZeneca vaccine changes under 50 after blood clot links


Australia’s national vaccine rollout will receive an overhaul after medical experts advised that AstraZeneca should no longer be the preferred jab for people aged over 50.

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.



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