The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have released a statement regarding their concerns in relation to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

ATAGI is the body that provides technical advice to the Federal Minister for Health on the medical administration of vaccines available in Australia.

Their health advice to the Minister and to the Australian public regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine has changed.

Due to further evidence regarding rare but serious side effects, ATAGI are now recommending their preference be given to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine over AstraZeneca’s for a large portion of the country’s population, particularly people under the age of 50.
The Federal Government have accepted this and has stated that as a consequence this will delay the plan to vaccinate Australians against the virus.

State and Territory Departments of Health have stated that they are currently reviewing their COVID-19 vaccine rollout programs.

Summary

  • ATAGI notes further evidence of a rare but serious side effect involving thrombosis (clotting) with thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count) following receipt of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
  • ATAGI recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer (Comirnaty) is preferred over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in adults aged under 50 years. This recommendation is based on the increasing risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 in older adults (and hence a higher benefit from vaccination) and a potentially increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following AstraZeneca vaccine in those under 50 years.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.
  • People who have had the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.

The full details of the ATAGI statement are contained in the following link:
https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-statement-on-astrazeneca-vaccine-in-response-to-new-vaccine-safety-concerns

Keep monitoring the Department of Health website as the science develops for the latest medical advice.