NSW temporarily suspends rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine

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NSW temporarily suspends rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine.

By Tom Rabe and Kate Aubusson

“As of a few hours ago, everybody over 50 years of age is continuing to receive the vaccine in NSW and from Monday, those under 50 who choose to have the vaccine can do so.”

Ms Berejiklian, who turned 50 in September 2020, said she intends to get her second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. She received her first dose in March 2021.

She said during the pause this morning, the vaccination consent forms were also updated.

The suspension of AstraZeneca at NSW Health-run COVID vaccination clinics came less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an overhaul of the country’s vaccine program, with Pfizer confirmed as the preferred product for people aged under 50.

The temporary pause on Friday did not apply to GP clinics administering the vaccine, or their patient appointments.

A NSW government source told the Herald the biggest problem facing states and territories was the great uncertainty about how much Pfizer vaccine will be available and when.

They said NSW’s mass vaccination centre was capable of administering both Pfizer and AZ vaccines, making it all the more crucial for the state’s rollout given the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommendation overnight.

The government source stressed the federal government needed to make clear the AstraZeneca decision was about weighing up the risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 versus getting a blood clot.

A NSW Health spokesman said earlier on Friday the government had “temporarily paused” the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to all age groups at its clinics while informed consent information were updated.

“Following the new advice from the Commonwealth last night, informed consent information will be updated to provide patients and those administering the AstraZeneca vaccine with the latest information,” the spokesman said.

“As with all other vaccines, informed consent is required before administering COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring recipients make decisions based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.”

Australia’s decision to name Pfizer as the preferred vaccine for under-50-year-olds follows changes by European medical regulators after a review of data confirmed a rare blood clotting condition seen in a small number of patients was linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the vaccine overhaul made his state’s planned mass vaccination centre even more crucial.

“It may well make it even more important that we’ve got a mass vaccination centre because if there are any delays, then having that mass vaccination centre is going to assist when we really do get clarity on how we’re to proceed with the vaccines,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Obviously our state government is working with the federal government. We’ve listened to what the advice is, but we want to get more information today, it’s been too soon to make any definitive statements.”

Mr Morrison said on Thursday evening that the new ATAGI advice was not a prohibition on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people aged under 50.
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