Australia backs Pfizer vaccine following AstraZeneca concerns

Australia had initially based its national vaccination rollout on the AstraZeneca drug, but has now joined various other countries in restricting its use.

Australian officials said the new batch of Pfizer vaccine doses would arrive later this year. File image: Open Content

CAPE TOWN, April 9 (ANA) – Australia has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced following a cabinet meeting on Friday.

According to The Guardian, the vaccines will arrive later this year. The announcement comes after Australia urged the European Union to supply an outstanding 3.1 million AstraZeneca doses it has not yet received.

“We’re going to work through the implications of this most recent medical advice for the calibration of the rollout,” Morrison told reporters.

“It is not a prohibition on the AstraZeneca vaccine … for those who are over 50, there is a strong encouragement to be taking this AstraZeneca vaccine.”

On Thursday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) released a statement on the country’s national health website to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to increasing risks involving blood clots with low platelet counts.

Australia had initially based its national vaccination rollout on the AstraZeneca shots, but is now joining several other countries in restricting its use.

“ATAGI has very carefully considered the latest vaccination findings out of Europe and the UK – which follow extremely rare instances of people, having taken the AstraZeneca vaccine, developing a very specific syndrome involving blood clots,” the advisory group said.

“The syndrome is called “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia.”

ATAGI added that people who had received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious adverse effects could be given the second shot.

Meanwhile, several publications reported that aged care workers from South Australia as well as Melbourne’s east who had received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine were being turned away from getting their second jab.

The staff who formed part of the high-priority category in the national vaccination rollout were meant to have their second doses administered within three weeks of the first, but officials said supply had been a major challenge.

– African News Agency (ANA), Edited by Stella Mapenzauswa

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