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Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout needs reboot after AstraZeneca blood clot advice, doctor says

Doctor says Australia needs to ‘entirely rethink’ its vaccination rollout after advising residents under 50 to avoid the AstraZeneca jab because of fears about blood clots

  • Doctor warned Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy needs a ‘reboot’ and ‘rethink’ 
  • Epidemiologist Nancy Baxter said federal government needs to speed things up
  • She said she doubted the end of year deadline would be met at the current pace
  • Advice comes after setbacks to program including AstraZeneca blood clot fears 

Australia needs to speed up its Covid-19 vaccine rollout and rethink its strategy if the country is going to reach its end of year deadline, a top doctor says.  

Epidemiologist professor Nancy Baxter says it is unlikely the Federal Government will reach its target to have the entire population vaccinated by the end of the year if they continue on the current trajectory.

‘We need to do it faster than we were hoping before, if we’re hoping to get everyone vaccinated by the end of the year,’ she told Weekend Today. 

Her doubts come after several setbacks to the vaccine program, which include a delayed rollout and advice, from the country’s chief immunisation authority, against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Epidemiologist professor Nancy Baxter says it is unlikely the Federal Government will reach its target to have the entire population vaccinated by the end of the year if they continue on the current trajectory

Her doubts come after several setbacks to the vaccine program, which include a delayed rollout and advice, from the country's chief immunisation authority, against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine

Her doubts come after several setbacks to the vaccine program, which include a delayed rollout and advice, from the country’s chief immunisation authority, against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advised on Thursday there was a risk of administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people younger than 50.  

The advice was made over fears of the vaccine’s rare, but serious, blood-clotting side effect.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ordered an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine following the review.

The vaccine rollout has already been plagued by massive delays with the government falling behind its vaccination schedule.

It had hoped to have four million people vaccinated by April 1, though the national toll only stood at 670,500.

Despite the setbacks the government is still determined to vaccinate the entire population by the end of the year.

Professor Baxter says the government needs to ‘reboot’ and ‘rethink’ the program.  

‘The vaccine program frankly was already pretty much in disarray,’ Professor Baxter said.

‘Now that we have to wait for a large part of the population for the Pfizer to come, they will have to rethink the program entirely.’

Australia has ordered 20million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine after the AstraZeneca vaccine was linked to potentially deadly bloodclots

Australia has ordered 20million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine after the AstraZeneca vaccine was linked to potentially deadly bloodclots

Despite the setbacks the government is still determined to vaccinate the entire population by the end of the year

Despite the setbacks the government is still determined to vaccinate the entire population by the end of the year

Professor Baxter said younger Australians still had the option to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and described the likelihood of getting a blood clot as remote. 

‘When we give any medication, there’s always some risks of side-effects. That’s accepted because of the benefit of the medication,’ she said.

‘If you got penicillin for an infection, there’s ten times the risk there would be a serious drug reaction with that drug (compared to the AstraZeneca vaccine).’

Mr Morrison is still encouraging Australians over 50 to have the AstraZeneca jab because they are less at risk of the clotting events and more at risk of getting seriously sick from Covid-19. 

‘You would be putting yourself at risk if you didn’t get the vaccine, because you would be exposing yourself to the more likely event of a COVID contracted condition that could result in serious illness,’ he said.

‘That’s why I want my mum to get it, and that’s why I want your mum to kept get it, and your dad, your uncle, your aunt, your brother, your sister. That’s a life-saving vaccine.’  

In March more than a dozen countries suspended the AstraZeneca jab after a handful of European patients suffered brain blockages that can cause strokes

In March more than a dozen countries suspended the AstraZeneca jab after a handful of European patients suffered brain blockages that can cause strokes

Your two-minute guide to changes in Australia’s Coivd vaccine rollout

New AstraZeneca recommendations:   

– The use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over AstraZeneca in Australian adults under 50 who have not already received their first AstraZeneca dose

– Australian immunisation providers should only give a first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to adults under 50 where the benefit clearly outweighs the risk

– Australians who have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious adverse events can safely be given their second dose, including those under 50

– Australians who have had blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be given a second dose

– Australia’s Department of Health further develop and refine resources for informed consent that clearly convey the AstraZeneca vaccine’s benefits and the risks

How will this affect Australia’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout?

– Rollout plan will be recalibrated and re-evaluated

– End of October timeline for every Australian to receive first vaccine dose in doubt

– Phase 1b – which includes younger adults with a medical condition or disability and frontline health workers among others – may be delayed

– Pfizer vaccine will be reprioritised for under 50s once phase 1a finishes

– Australia’s vaccine purchases under review

How often do AstraZeneca blood clots occur?

– Four to six cases per million AstraZeneca vaccine doses

– One known Australian case found in a 44-year-old man admitted to hospital in Melbourne

–  25 per cent death rate in known cases

– More common among younger people

– Cause unknown

How the AstraZeneca vaccine works: 

– Adenovirus vaccine – To make the vaccine, the common cold virus is genetically modified to trigger it to make the Covid spike protein – which the virus uses to invade cells.

– When the vaccine is administered the patient’s immune system attacks the spike protein by building antibodies, priming it to fight off Covid before it leads to an infection. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk