Australia raises AstraZeneca age threshold to 60
Australia has lifted the minimum age recommended for the AstraZeneca vaccine from 50 to 60.
It comes after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended the vaccine only be given to people aged 60 and above.
Previously, ATAGI recommended AstraZeneca for over 50s.
The panel’s advice changed after 12 cases of the rare but serious blood clotting issue linked to the jab were detected in Australia in the past week. Seven of those cases were in the 50 to 59 age group.
Pfizer will immediately be made available to the 50 to 59 age bracket.
Another 2.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are due to arrive in Australia this month.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says more cases of the rare clotting syndrome are being identified because “we are looking for it”.
The blood clot risk is far higher after the first AstraZeneca dose than the second, so anyone who has already had their first dose without a serious adverse reaction should still have their second jab.
“We have no cases of this (blood clotting) condition in people who have had second doses in Australia,” he said.
Professor Kelly stressed AstraZeneca “remains a very effective vaccine”.
“People over 60 should still be rolling up to the GP or wherever they are getting their AstraZeneca vaccine, and get that first dose,” he said.
Director of infectious diseases at Mater Health Services, and a member of AstraZeneca’s Australian advisory board, Professor Paul Griffin, approves of the change.
“It’s clear our control of COVID in this country remains excellent and so, out of an abundance of caution, increase in the age cut off … is a very reasonable step,” he told Neil Mitchell.
Professor Griffin says the age cut off may change in either direction in the future, depending on how much COVID-19 is in the community.
Press PLAY below to hear Professor Griffin’s thoughts on ATAGI lifting the recommended AstraZeneca age to 60