This afternoon, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended that Pfizer is now the preferred COVID-19 vaccine in adults aged under 60 years.
For more information view the statement from ATAGI.
Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is a condition associated with unusual blood clots in the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) or in other parts of the body, together with low platelet levels. This rare but serious side effect involving thrombosis (blood clotting) and thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count) after people receive AstraZeneca vaccine.
TTS is a serious condition in a proportion of individuals who develop it. The overall case fatality rate in Australia (3%; 2 confirmed deaths among 60 cases) is lower than has been reported internationally. This is likely to reflect increased detection due to heightened awareness, as well as early diagnosis and treatment.
ATAGI has advised that the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged under 60 years.
The AstraZeneca vaccine can still be used for adults aged under 60 years where the benefits of protection against COVID-19 are likely to outweigh the risks of the side effect, and if the person to be vaccinated provides informed consent. People may wish to discuss their individual benefit-to-risk balance with their doctor.
People of any age without contraindications who have had their first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine without any serious adverse effects can be given their second dose. This is safe and recommended by ATAGI.
All people aged 50-59 who are currently booked in to receive a first dose of AstraZeneca at a vaccination site that also administers Pfizer will be offered the Pfizer vaccine upon arrival, with reference to today’s ATAGI recommendation.
All people aged 50-59 who are currently booked in to receive a first dose of AstraZeneca at a vaccination site that does not administer Pfizer will be advised of today’s ATAGI recommendation upon arrival. If a person in this group wishes to receive Pfizer, they should be advised to call the vaccine hotline at 1800 675 398 to reschedule their booking. If the person wishes to proceed with vaccination on the day, that person may consent to receiving AstraZeneca in line with current consent protocols. The Department is urgently contacting people in this group by phone in order to reschedule bookings.
All people aged 50-59 who walk in to receive a first dose of AstraZeneca will not be offered the Pfizer vaccine. If a person in this group wishes to receive Pfizer, they will be eligible to do so when first dose Pfizer bookings become available. If the person wishes to proceed with vaccination on the day, that person may consent to receiving AstraZeneca in line with current consent protocol.
People who have had their first dose of AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects should be given their second dose of AstraZeneca, whether booked or on a walk in basis. This includes adults under 60 years of age.
People aged 60 years and over should continue to receive AstraZeneca unless an existing formal exception applies.
Walk ins and bookings for AstraZeneca will continue without change.
Advice for people who have received an AstraZeneca Vaccine
The new age-based recommendations are made out of an abundance of caution and the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.
If you have received your first dose of the vaccine without serious adverse reaction, you are strongly encouraged to receive the second dose as planned. This is safe and recommended by ATAGI.
Symptoms of this rare clotting problem can include the onset of a serious, persistent headache and/or abdominal pain between 4 and 28 days after vaccination with AstraZeneca. These symptoms do not respond to over-the-counter pain medication.
As a precaution, if you experience these symptoms, you should go to your nearest hospital. It is important you tell health professionals that you have had a COVID-19 vaccine. At the hospital, a doctor will assess you and advise whether you need further tests as a precaution.
If you have a mild headache in the first three days after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that responds to over-the-counter pain medication, you do not need to attend hospital. If you are concerned about your health, you should speak to your doctor.
To keep informed about AstraZeneca, click here to read a well written article.