Covid19 : Australians are turning down AstraZeneca vaccines
Australian doctors have reported a surge in the number of people cancelling their vaccine appointments, amid a new wave of caution over the AstraZeneca jab. It comes after the government updated guidance last week to recommend only those aged over 60 get the shot, due to the risk of a rare blood-clotting syndrome. Under-60s have been advised to get the alternative Pfizer shot, of which there are limited supplies. Turning down any vaccine and AstraZeneca is the world’s most widely used one may seem remarkable to other nations still battling rampant Covid.
The federal government issued advice on Thursday lifting the recommended age for AstraZeneca from 50 to 60, rendering 2.1 million people in the 50-59 age bracket eligible for Pfizer but contributing to greater hesitancy to take AstraZeneca in all ages. Health authorities concede the rollout will suffer a “temporary reduction” in daily vaccinations caused by people rescheduling bookings to get Pfizer, limits on its supply and the fact GPs will be unable to supply Pfizer until late July.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, after a National Cabinet meeting, reiterated the benefits of vaccination and encouraged Australians to stay vigilant for symptoms of COVID-19. He told Australia’s ABC network that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in combating COVID-19 “far outweighed” the risks of developing a very rare blood clotting syndrome. Two women in Australia have died from the blood clots. The only COVID fatality this year was an 80-year-old traveler who died in April after being infected overseas and diagnosed in hotel quarantine.
Vaccine hesitancy has been an issue in Australia for months. But experts now fear the government’s latest downgrade has hindered the nation’s vaccination progress.