Australian States Urge People Under 40 To Take AZ Vaccine, Health News, ET HealthWorld
State government advice to under 40s is based on UK government guidelines, while the new federal government’s position recognizes the scarcity of Pfizer vaccine and the urgent need to accelerate a slow national rollout.
The disagreement has fueled confusion as around half of Australia’s population is locked in Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory due to new groups, mainly the Delta variant, which would be more contagious.
Australians have only two vaccines to choose from, and locally made AstraZeneca is more abundant.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said young adults should wait until Pfizer is available, although only 5% of all Australians are fully vaccinated.
With only 42 active coronavirus cases in Queensland, AstraZeneca was not worth the risk for young adults, she said.
“No, I don’t want people under 40 to get AstraZeneca because they’re at an increased risk of getting – it’s rare – but they’re at an increased risk of getting this rare bleeding syndrome,” Young said.
“I don’t want an 18-year-old from Queensland to die of a bleeding disease which, if he got COVID, probably wouldn’t die,” Young added.
Australian vaccine advisor, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, known as ATAGI, recommends Pfizer for people under the age of 60 because of the risk of clotting.
AstraZeneca had been recommended for all adults until a 48-year-old Australian woman died of bleeding in April. The vaccine was then recommended for people over 50 until the death of a 52-year-old man in May.
As concerns grew about new infections, the federal government decided on Monday to make AstraZeneca available to all adults and to indemnify the doctors who administer it against lawsuits.
Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan said his government had taken a “different approach” to the federal government.
“Those under 40 shouldn’t have it,” McGowan said, referring to AstraZeneca.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said ATAGI’s advice continued to be the “guiding light” of his government.
But ATAGI said AstraZeneca could be given to people under the age of 60 “for whom Pfizer is not available.” The conditions included that the benefits were likely to outweigh the risks and that the decision to take AstraZeneca was informed.
“We respect deeply throughout the pandemic a range of opinions have been put forward, but the critical elements are that we have a national immunization program, which is based on medical advice and continues to be based on that medical advice, ”Hunt said.
Hunt declined to say whether Australians under 40 should expect doctors to inject them with AstraZeneca.
“I would certainly never stand between a patient and a doctor when an informed decision to get the vaccine has been made,” Hunt said.
Many younger Australians have expressed an interest in accepting the AstraZeneca option.
The central Australian town of Alice Springs was added to the list of locked locations on Wednesday.
A miner had been infected in a gold mine and then spent several hours at Alice Springs airport before returning from the Northern Territory to South Australia, where he infected his wife and three of his children in the state capital, Adelaide, officials said.