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Former ATAGI chair urges radical rethink on vaccination rollout

Neil Mitchell
Article image for Former ATAGI chair urges radical rethink on vaccination rollout

The former boss of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations (ATAGI) says we should be focusing on getting as many “one doses” into people as possible, with only those in high risk environments given two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Professor Terry Nolan, who was the chair of ATAGI from 2005 to 2014 and is now the head of the Vaccine and Immunisation Research Group at the Doherty Institute, says vaccine supply issues mean we should defer the general population’s second dose.

“The British did this (they) went hell-for-leather in getting as many of the first doses into as many of the population as possible,” he told Neil Mitchell on 3AW Mornings.

“The evidence subsequently proved they were right, that doing that was better than having an ideally protected smaller proportion, rather than less-than-ideal but still not bad protected much bigger proportion of the population.”

It comes after Australia lifted the minimum recommended age for the AstraZeneca vaccine from 50 to 60, on the back of advice from ATAGI.

Professor Nolan said the benefits still outweigh the risks.

“Understand what’s behind this recommendation, and understand above all that the outcome we’re talking about here is still a very rare outcome,” he said.

“The fundamental problem is we still don’t have enough vaccine to allow people to make choices, if we did, then this would probably be a much less heated issue.”

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Neil Mitchell
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