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Kamis, 08 April 2021

October vaccination target all but over after AstraZeneca concerns prompt rollout shakeup - ABC News

Hopes of all Australians having at least their first COVID-19 vaccine by October look all but dashed following a late-night shakeup of the nation's rollout plans.

It was a scene reminiscent of last year's late-night prime ministerial press conferences to announce the locking down of the nation as the coronavirus took hold.

Flanked by the nation's chief medical leaders, Scott Morrison late on Thursday announced a reworking of the national vaccination plan over AstraZeneca blood clot fears.

The details are light and the government is promising more information in the coming days, but here's what we know about the new plan.

Remind me, where is the rollout at?

The government is rolling out the vaccine in phases.

The first phase was called 1a and it was for quarantine, border and some frontline healthcare workers and it began in late February.

The plan was to give people in this category the Pfizer vaccine only, with the government expecting it would require up to 1.4 million vaccines.

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Professor Brendan Murphy explains the changes to Australia's vaccine rollout.

The second phase, 1b, began in March and this is where Australia is up to. It includes both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.

Phase 1b includes people aged 70 years and older, healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, critical and high-risk workers and adults with underlying medical conditions.

This phase is forecast to require up to 14.8 million doses.

The government initially forecasted up to 4 million COVID-19 vaccine does would have been administered by early March but Australia only hit the 1 million mark on Thursday, April 8.

What if I had my first shot with AstraZeneca?

If you are under the age of 50 and have already received your first AstraZeneca dose without experiencing any serious side effects, authorities say it is safe to receive your second one.

People who have had blood clots "associated with low platelet levels" after their first AstraZeneca dose should not be given the second.

However, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says that only applies to one person in Australia so far — a Melbourne man who was hospitalised with blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca shot.

Advice previously released by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) said "common and expected" vaccine side effects like headaches, muscle aches, fever and chills usually develop within the first 24 hours and last one to two days.

However, the onset of recent blood clotting cases was between four and 20 days after vaccination, with symptoms such as a severe, persistent headache that cannot be eased by regular painkillers.

"Patients may also present with features of raised intracranial pressure (acute severe headache, vomiting, confusion), focal neurological deficits and/or seizures," it said.

Will I still get my first vaccine by October?

It looks like some people will, but not everyone.

The federal government had planned to have every Australian vaccinated with at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October.

However, the Prime Minister said the new medical advice has changed the rollout plan but he would not be drawn on outlining a new timeline.

"I think we have to take the time to assess the implications for the programme," he said.

"And when we've done that, well, we may be able to form a view but I don't think anyone should expect that any time soon. This will take some time to work through the implications."

Mr Morrison was pushed on whether all Australians could at least get their first dose by Christmas but he would not engage in any suggested dates.

The timeline is also dependent on how many vaccines are available and at the moment the figure is well below initial expectations.

Why can't we just switch to Pfizer?

Put simply, we don't yet have enough.

The federal government has only secured 20 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine, enough for 10 million Australians.

Because Pfizer's vaccine is based on mRNA technology, which has never been successfully manufactured or distributed locally before, all doses will need to be imported.

Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy said Australian authorities are still negotiating with Pfizer for additional doses.

"We are confident at some stage in the near future we will get an improved supply of Pfizer."

Until then, Mr Morrison said the Pfizer vaccines would be prioritised for individuals who needed it the most.

A patient is injected with a vaccine during a clinical trial.
One Australian was hospitalised after developing blood clots after being vaccinated.(

AP

)

When will we know more from the government?

This is a major change and the entire rollout will need an overhaul.

The government is now reviewing the nation's vaccine portfolio and it will need to adjust the vaccination program to account for the new recommendations.

The task now will be to work through the "logistics" and the "calibration" of how that is done.

The vaccine rollout and advice on AstraZeneca were always on the agenda for Friday's National Cabinet and now that will be top of the list.

Mr Morrison said he would take questions and discussions from the meeting into account when reworking the program in the days to come.

We can expect an update after National Cabinet, but in terms of the overall impact of these changes, Mr Morrison said it's too early to say.

"I mean, this now has to be considered," he said.

"The impacts assessed and the program evaluated and recalibrated. Once we've done that, we'll be in a better position to understand those implications."

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2021-04-08 13:47:48Z
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