Top doctors have urged young Australians to stick with the Pfizer vaccine, claiming they were left blindsided by Scott Morrison announcing under 60s could instead opt for the AstraZeneca jab.
Doctors say they were not consulted before the prime minister announced policy changes to the vaccine rollout on Monday, which will allow Australians over 16 to get the jab, which has a very rare risk of blood clots, after seeking medical advice.
Willing young Australians keen to get vaccinated in the face of outbreaks sweeping across Sydney, as well as Perth, Darwin and south-east Queensland, rolled their sleeves up on Tuesday to get the AstraZeneca jab after Mr Morrison’s announcement.
It comes after an unvaccinated hospital receptionist in Queensland, who works on a Covid-specialist ward, caught the virus and spent 10 days in the community.
Her younger brother has since become infected, with south-east Queensland now entering a three-day lockdown to curb the spread.
But the decision to extend the vaccine to younger age groups came less than two weeks after the federal government bumped the minimum age for the Oxford University jab from 50 to 60.
This was under advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, due to the risk of developing the rare blood-clotting condition.
The prime minister announced on Monday the controversial jab would be made available to under 40s in a bid to boost the country’s low vaccination rate (pictured, a woman getting the jab)
The nation’s top doctors have urged Australian’s under 59 to follow immunisation experts’ advice to receive the Pfizer jab, despite Scott Morrison offering AstraZeneca to anyone over 16
The Morrison government has backflipped on its guidelines, sparking concern among the nation’s peak medical bodies.
On Tuesday, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) advised patients 59 and under to stick to immunisation experts’ advice.
‘The decision was a surprise to the AMA, it’s a surprise to doctors,’ AMA president Omar Khorshid said.
‘The experts have said that the preferred vaccine under the age of 60 is the Pfizer vaccine and that is still the health advice. Our recommendation is still really for patients to follow the ATAGI advice.
‘Be patient and have the ATAGI-recommended vaccine when it’s available. I am certainly still backing the expert advice at this stage.’
The ill-fated journey of the 19-year-old woman who sparked Queensland’s three-day lockdown
Olympic swimmer Ariarne Titmus is seen waiting to get a Covid vaccine in Brisbane (pictured) with jabs now available to every Australian over 16
What are the chances of dying from a blood clot after AstraZeneca?
One in 1.9million people have died from a blood clot after AstraZeneca.
By comparison, Aussies have a one in 33 chance of dying if they catch Covid-19, a one in 12,000 chance of being struck by lightning and a one in 55 chance of winning the Oz Lotto.
AstraZeneca holds a very low change of getting the blood clot, with around two in 100,000 people developing the condition, but it is less likely to occur in older adults.
Under the new policy, the prime minister said the Commonwealth would provide GPs indemnity cover so they could administer AstraZeneca to all adults, regardless of age.
People aged under 50 will be able to use Medicare for a vaccine consultation with a doctor, bringing them in line with older Australians.
However, Dr Khorshid said the announcement had left Australians confused and has called on the federal government to urgently clarify the new policy.
Karen Price from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners said GPs had been inundated with booking requests after the overnight amendment.
She said some had been left shocked by the change and are still working through how much cover the indemnity scheme provides.
Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured on Tuesday) has plunged millions into a three-day lockdown after the infected hospital worker travelled around for 10 days – saying the fact the 19-year-old was unvaccinated made her ‘furious’
Workers are seen packing up a Brisbane cafe (pictured) on Tuesday after the new restrictions were announced
TEEN’S 10 INFECTIOUS DAYS IN QUEENSLAND
Sunday, June 20, 9.30am-10.30am: Sandgate Woolworths
Bay Health Gym from 10am-12pm on the same day.
Tues-Wed, June 22-23: Prince Charles Hospital from 3:00pm to 10:00pm on the Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
Thursday, June 24: The woman travelled with her family on VA369 from Brisbane to Townsville on at 10:00am. They were in Brisbane Airport for an hour prior and then when they landed at Townsville airport and stayed at the Cafe Brewery in the airport for an hour
Thursday, June 24-Sun June 27: Magnetic Island.
Sunday, June 27: Travelled from Magnetic Island back to Townsville. They went to the Sunday morning markets in Townsville City late morning, then caught VA374 from Townsville to Brisbane on Sunday, June 27, landing at Brisbane Airport at 2.55pm
‘Please remember us GPs are still trying to get our heads around last night’s announcement concerning AstraZeneca too and what it means for our patients,’ Dr Price said.
‘A reminder to treat all nurses, receptionists and administrative workers with respect. We are doing our best.’
Cabinet’s national security committee met on Monday to discuss the unfolding situation as several states grapple with outbreaks of the highly contagious Indian Delta variant.
With 13 million Australians in Sydney, Perth, Darwin, and Brisbane under some form of lockdown restrictions, Mr Morrison has been under mounting pressure to boost vaccination numbers to rectify the nation’s beleaguered rollout.
Mr Morrison has faced growing pressure to boost vaccination numbers as several states grapple with the highly infectious Indian Delta variant (pictured, people line up at a vaccination centre in Sydney on Tuesday)
Government experts did modelling (above) to show the risk of getting a blood clot from the Astrazeneca vaccine for each age group, compared with the benefits of getting the jab
On Tuesday, millions of Queenslanders were plunged into a three-day lockdown amid fears a holidaying hospital worker may have spread the more infectious strain through Brisbane and north Queensland.
The 19-year-old tested positive on Monday but is believed to have been infectious in the community for about 10 days, and in that time worked two shifts at the hospital and went on a family holiday to Townsville.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was ‘furious’ to learn the young woman was not vaccinated but continued to work shifts as a concierge stationed just outside the coronavirus ward of Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane.
Her younger brother has tested positive, while one of her close friends and another family member are also now ill, and awaiting test results.
AMA president Omar Khorshid (pictured) said the association was not consulted by the prime minister before the policy changes were announced
Millions of Australians are currently in lockdown as several states battle to contain local Covid outbreaks (pictured, Sydneysiders queue outside a vaccination centre on Monday)
What are the chances of getting a blood clot?
Number of people who get blood clots after AstraZeneca per 100,000 people:
<50 years – 3.1 people
50-59 years – 2.7
60-69 years – 1.4
70-79 years – 1.8
80+ years – 1.9
The overall case fatality rate in Australia is 3 per cent
The lockdown, which is in place until 6pm Friday, covers Townsville, nearby Magnetic and Palm islands, and all 11 local government areas in the state’s southeast corner.
Dr Khorshid suspects the prime minister made the announcement to provide hope to people in lockdown.
‘My guess is they are wanting to provide nervous Australians who are going into lockdown this week with something they can actually do to improve their chances of getting through this and to push the nation’s vaccination program forward.’
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday confirmed the medical advice had not changed and that AstraZeneca remained the preferred vaccine for people aged over 60 and Pfizer was recommended for those under 60.
Mr Hunt argued the only change was making AstraZeneca available in more locations.
State governments were also understood to have been surprised by the announcement.
Ms Palaszczuk believes governments should follow the ATAGI’s advice, while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is also lukewarm about the shift in position.
Dr Khorshid suspects the prime minister made the announcement to provide hope to people in lockdown. Testing queues are seen at Highgate Hill in Brisbane (pictured) on Tuesday as the state recorded two new locally acquired cases of Covid
Ms Berejiklian confirmed the change was discussed at national cabinet and would be followed in NSW, but barely endorsed the policy.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley insisted the AstraZeneca call was not a decision of national cabinet.
His department has written to the federal government seeking further advice.
In May, the federal government announced Pfizer was the recommended shot for under 50s after AstraZeneca was linked to blood-clotting condition thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).
Just weeks later, following the death of a 52-year-old woman, the age-restriction was revised to over 60s.
Wild FIVE HOUR long testing queues in Queensland as supermarkets overflow with panicked customers after 19yo with the Indian Delta strain spent 10 days in the community
By Tita Smith for Daily Mail Australia
Queenslanders are gridlocked in five-hour long testing queues while supermarkets overflow with panicked customers as the state grapples with a new Covid outbreak.
Millions of residents have been plunged into a three-day lockdown amid fears a 19-year-old unvaccinated hospital worker from Brisbane may have spread the highly contagious Indian Delta variant to north Queensland.
The woman tested positive on Monday but is believed to have been infectious in the community for about 10 days, and in that time worked two shifts at Prince Charles Hospital and went on a family holiday to Townsville.
The teenager, whose younger brother has also caught the virus, worked on a special ward dedicated to Covid cases from overseas as a receptionist, but was not vaccinated, which Annastacia Palazczuk said made her ‘absolutely furious’.
Although the 19-year-old was one of just two Covid cases recorded on Tuesday, health authorities have shutdown all 11 local government areas in the state’s southeast corner, Townsville, and nearby Magnetic and Palm islands, as they battle to contain the more infectious strain.
Motorists are stuck in gridlock testing queues (pictured in Townsville) across Queensland after a a 19-year-old infected with the Indian Delta strain spent 10 days in the community
The hospital worker’s brother has since tested positive to the virus, but is yet to be included in official figures.
The principal of St Patrick’s College at Shorncliffe, where the boy is a pupil, has written to parents to advise them of the result.
‘Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers over the next two weeks,’ college principal Chris Mayes said, the Courier Mail reports.
After the lockdown announcement on Tuesday, motorists flocked to drive-through testing facilities across the state, with lines stretching for kilometres.
Photos posted on social media show customers snaked through shopping centres, waiting to enter capacity-limited grocery stores to pick up supplies.
Queenslanders flocked to supermarkets on Tuesday after large swathes of the state were plunged into lockdown (pictured, a Townsville Woolworths)
Within hours, shelves had been stripped bare of toilet paper, dry food, and other stocks, with many buyers at packed registers spotted without masks.
Queensland traffic has also issued a road congestion alert along major highways in the state’s south east as residents raced to flee the city ahead of the 6pm lockdown.
Townsville resident Bethany told Daily Mail Australia she left home at 12.30pm to get tested after learning the market she visited on Sunday was an exposure site.
By 5.30pm, she was still waiting in the queue.
‘There are only four testing booths, the road is blocked both ways to get in, and there are now eight lanes of traffic – and no one is moving forward,’ she said.
‘There are kids in these cars and babies. Imagine waiting over four hours in the car not moving with a baby. I haven’t moved in 40 minutes. I’ve been waiting over 4.5 hours now and they will be closing at 6pm.’
The infected 19-year-old hospital worker visited Sandgate Woolworths (pictured) while infectious
Bethany said the clinic appeared to be struggling to keep up with the workload, and many drivers had abandoned the line.
‘They’ve been smashed. It’s a s**t show and they’ve literally shut the gate so people can’t enter. They’ve just updated signs to say high traffic flow and be kind to staff.
‘People are leaving and just chucking u-turns and heading home.’
Bethany said the disorganisation has instilled doubt the lockdown will end at 6pm on Friday as planned, and many appeared to be breaching health orders.
‘No one is in masks and the security guy has his mask under his top lip,’ she said.
‘It’s going take people days to get tested let alone sort things out in a lock down.
Around 13 million Australians, around half of the population, are now under some form of lockdown restrictions after cases seeped into the community in Brisbane, Darwin, Perth and Sydney.
The young hospital worker was not vaccinated but continued to work shifts as a concierge stationed just outside the coronavirus ward of Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane (pictured, the city as lockdown came into effect on Tuesday)
As her state became the latest casualty, Premier Palaszczuk said she was ‘furious’ to learn the young woman was not vaccinated but continued to work shifts as a concierge stationed just outside the coronavirus ward of the Brisbane hospital.
‘Despite the health directives that she should have been vaccinated, she was not,’ Ms Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old woman from Sandgate in Brisbane is believed to have been infectious from Saturday, June 19, before developing symptoms the following Monday.
She visited her local Woolworths and a gym on the Sunday before working shifts ‘outside’ Prince Charles’ specialist Covid-19 ward on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
On Thursday, June 24 she went to Brisbane Airport to catch a flight to Townsville for a family holiday at nearby Magnetic Island.
The 19-year-old woman from Sandgate in Brisbane is believed to have been infectious from Saturday, June 19, before developing symptoms the following Monday (pictured, the city as lockdown began on Tuesday)
After three nights on the island, she returned to Townsville and attended the popular markets in Townsville’s CBD on Sunday, June 27 before testing positive to the virus on Monday.
She then returned to Brisbane last Sunday, before testing positive to Covid on Monday.
Late Tuesday, authorities confirmed she has the Indian Delta variant, which is twice as contagious as the original virus and can be spread through fleeting contact that lasts just seconds.
One of her close friends and two of her family members are also now ill, and awaiting test results. The concierge also had contact with three other hospital workers.
Every single one of Magnetic Island’s 2500 residents has been told to get tested, and authorities have included Palm Island given it has a large Indigenous population that would be more vulnerable to the virus.