By GEMMA BILLINGTON
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been made available to every Australian upon consultation with their GP, the Prime Minister has announced.
Jamie Apps, Arts and Entertainment Editor at City Hub, received his second and final dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine last month, though his underlying health conditions meant he was eligible sooner.
“At the first dose, there was no discussion about the risks. Although I heard about the small number of clotting reports, I wasn’t concerned given the rate of occurrence was so low,” said Mr Apps.
“When the federal medical advice had changed, I was required to speak to a GP before receiving the shot. Given it was my second dose and that I had no complications from the first dose, I wasn’t concerned at all,”
“I was comfortable with the risk and the advice I received. Having an underlying [respiratory] condition, the benefits of being vaccinated far outweighed the risks for me personally.”
In a statement made last month, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) outlined the benefits and rare risk of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“ATAGI acknowledges the difficulty in balancing the small risk of a clinically significant adverse event related to vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca against the need to protect individuals and the community against the ongoing threat of COVID-19.”
The estimated risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) per 100,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses is as low as 3.1% and of that portion, the fatality rate is 3%.
With adverse reactions minimal and Pfizer vaccine eligibility distant for many young Australians, the Federal Government decided to modify vaccine advice.
The announcement comes after an emergency National Cabinet meeting was held last Monday.
In the virtual press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed amendments to the vaccine scheme, with Australians under 40 now able to request a jab, and announced the implementation of a “no fault indemnity scheme” for GPs administering the COVID-19 vaccines.
“The ATAGI advice talks about a preference for AstraZeneca to be available… but the advice does not preclude persons under 60 from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Mr Morrison said.
“If you wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, then we would encourage you to go and have that discussion with your GP and we’ve already made announcements to support those additional consultations with the GPs so you can have that conversation.”
While people over 60 will remain a priority for the AstraZeneca vaccine, younger Australians are now able to receive it, though everyone is advised to consult their GP beforehand.
Mr Apps said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweighed the risks and agreed with the importance of offering the vaccine to everyone.
“I feel it is a good idea to open up the eligibility so that we can avoid future lockdowns,” said Mr Apps.
“Look at the Hoxton Park as an example, of 30 attendees the 6 who were fully vaccinated have remained uninfected. Also, the risks really are not that great, paracetamol and the contraceptive pill have higher rates of clotting.”