The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now the preferred shot for adults in Australia under the age of 50, after the government received new medical advice around the AstraZeneca jab following confirmation of a link between it and rare blood clots.
In a surprise press conference on Thursday night, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation had met after European authorities confirmed the link, and made recommendations the Pfizer shot be preferred for adults under 50 who have not already received their first AstraZeneca dose.
Adults under 50 should only get the first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the circumstances where the “benefit clearly outweighs the risk” for the individual, Professor Kelly said.
He said people that have had their first AstraZeneca dose without serious adverse effects could safely get their second.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy stressed clots were “a very, very rare event” and Australia was taking a “highly precautionary position”.
“I want to reiterate that we are strongly encouraging those 50 and over to take up the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is a highly effective vaccine at preventing severe COVID,” Professor Murphy told reporters in Canberra.
More to come.