West Australians under the age of 50 who had been booked in to get the AstraZeneca vaccine have been told not to show up to their appointments in light of revised health advice linking the jab to a rare blood clotting condition.
WA Chief Health Officer Dr Andy Robertson said the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine was still safe for those under the cutoff age who had received their first jab but the remaining appointments would be cancelled.
People booked in to receive the Pfizer vaccine, now Australia’s preferred choice for people under 50, should continue to attend their appointments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday night the government would review Australia’s vaccine portfolio and now list the Pfizer vaccine as preferred over AstraZeneca’s in adults aged less than 50 years old who have not already received a first dose of AstraZeneca.
This means the entire vaccine rollout will require an overhaul, putting government plans to vaccinate the entire population by October in doubt.
Australia’s decision follows changes by European medical regulators after a review of data confirmed a rare blood clotting condition seen in a small number of patients was linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation spent hours on Thursday considering the medical evidence and issued new advice on the vaccine to the government just after 7pm AEST.
The medical experts made three recommendations: that AstraZeneca was preferred in adults over 50, that adults under the age of 50 should only be given AstraZeneca where the benefits clearly outweighed the risks, and that adults under 50 who had already received their first doses without experiencing serious side effects could safely be given their second dose.