New advice is issued for younger Aussies over 'rare but serious' blood clotting side effect - but country is told the jab is 'perfectly safe' for older people
Australia has advised citizens aged under 50 not to get AstraZeneca vaccine
Came after a link was confirmed between the Covid-19 jab and rare blood clots
But the government insists those aged over 50 are still safe to get that vaccine
Australia has advised its citizens aged under 50 against getting the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after a link was confirmed between the jab and rare blood clots.
Scott Morrison made the announcement on Thursday night after receiving a series of recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
Chief among the recommendations is that the Pfizer vaccine should now be adopted as the preferred vaccine for people aged under 50.
The recommendations are made under an 'abundance of caution' of the rare but serious side effects mostly associated with younger people, the Prime Minister said.
'We've been taking the necessary precautions based on the best possible medical advice,' Mr Morrison said.
But the government insists citizens aged over 50 are still safe to get the AstraZeneca jab, saying it is 'highly-effective' in that age group.
Urgent meetings were held among Australia's medical experts after European authorities identified the blood clot link, prompting the United Kingdom to offer people aged under 30 an alternative vaccine due to the risk.
'The ATAGI recommendations are the following: At the current time, 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,' Australia's chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said.
Australia has advised citizens aged under 50 against receiving AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine (pictured, a vaccine vial)
'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.
'The second recommendation is that 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.
'The third recommendation is people that have had their first dose of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca without any serious adverse events can safely be given their second dose.
'This includes adults under the age of 50, and people who have had blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose of Covid-19 AstraZeneca should not be given the second dose.'
Mr Morrison encouraged Australians to seek out their own medical advice before receiving their Covid-19 vaccine.
'We will encourage Australians to seek out the advice of their own doctor in relation to these issues. Australians make choices about their own health and the best people to advise them on those decisions is their own GP, and we would encourage them to do just that,' he said.
The government recommends the Pfizer vaccine should now be adopted as the preferred vaccine for people aged under 50
'This is not a directive. This is not an instruction. This is advice that is being provided to Australians and the broader medical community, who are responsible for administering these vaccines.'
Department of Health Secretary Dr Brendan Murphy acknowledged all vaccines came with adverse effects.
'This is a very, very rare event, and it is a highly precautionary position that Australia can take because we're in a fortunate position with Covid. All vaccines have adverse effects. Some serious. Flu vaccines do,' Dr Murphy said.
'The Pfizer vaccine has a risk of anaphylaxis, which we've seen.
'But this syndrome, after all of the work we've done with the UK and Europe, does seem to be a real syndrome, and we now feel that, at an abundance of caution, given that this syndrome seems to occur mainly in younger people for whom the risk of severe COVID is not so great, that there is a basis to have a preferred recommendation for those under 50.'
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) said Australians should seek out medical advice before receiving the Covid-19 vaccine
The European Medicines Agency has not made a specific recommendation, but found women and people under 60 were at a higher risk of developing the rare side effect.
Other countries are considering attaching warning labels.
Health care workers aged under 50 who were due to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine will now be prioritised for the Pfizer vaccine, which will likely delay phase 1b of the rollout.
The findings will also be discussed among state and federal health ministers and at the next meeting of national cabinet on Friday.
More than 996,000 coronavirus vaccine doses have now been administered.