Earlier this evening the Australian Government received advice from the vaccine expert taskforce, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
The detail of that advice is attached.
The Government accepts the advice from Australia’s medical experts and will move swiftly to ensure Australia’s vaccination program and advice to patients is adjusted accordingly.
The Australian Government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians.
The ATAGI advice is clear that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe disease caused by COVID-19.
The medical advice to the Government is that the risk of blood clotting side effects from the Astra Zeneca vaccine is four to six in one million people, in the first four to 20 days post the vaccine. This is a rare but serious side effect.
On that basis, the recommendation is that it is preferred that the Pfizer vaccine be provided to adults under the age of 50. The AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given as a first dose to adults under the age of 50 where the benefit clearly outweighs the risk for that individual.
AstraZeneca is recommended for those over the age of 50.
The vaccination program will continue, particularly for the most vulnerable Australians in Phase 1B including those over the age of 70 who are not impacted by this revised advice.
The longer term timeframe for the program is being reviewed following this medical advice.
The Department of Health will provide preliminary, updated advice to general practitioners and health professionals.
The ATAGI advice follows further international evidence including from the vaccinations in Europe and the United Kingdom. ATAGI had already provided updated guidance on 2 April.
The ATAGI advice has today been considered by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), which is the Medical Expert Panel led by the Chief Medical Officer, and also comprising all State and Territory Chief Health Officers.
The advice will be provided to National Cabinet tomorrow.