Immediate changes to WA Covid-19 vaccination program

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Chief health officer Dr Andrew Robertson says WA’s state vaccination program will be changed immediately following new information on evidence of a rare but serious side effect in younger people. File picture

WA’s state vaccination program – specifically use of the AstraZeneca vaccine – will be changed immediately to reflect new information on evidence of a rare but serious side effect of thrombosis in younger people.

About 8.30pm tonight WA’s chief health officer Andrew Robertson issued a statement on immediate changes to the state’s Covid-19 vaccination program following the Morrison Government’s new advice on the vaccination program and the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In the statement Dr Robertson said from tomorrow, when clinics reopen across the state, AstraZeneca vaccinations would only be given to people over the age of 50.

“People under 50 who are booked in to receive their AstraZeneca vaccine will have their appointments cancelled,’’ he said.

“If you have a booking tomorrow or in coming days, please do not show up for your appointment.

“For those people in the 1A and 1B cohorts who are under 50 and have already received their first AstraZeneca vaccine, please do not be alarmed.

“The ATAGI advice is that those who have safely received their first AstraZeneca vaccine, will be able to safely receive their second vaccine.

“You should not cancel your second vaccination booking.

“For people who have a current Pfizer vaccine booking, please continue to attend your appointment as booked.’’

In the statement Dr Robertson said the advice was based on a new recommendation of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI)

The advice states:

  • ATAGI recommends that the Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer is preferred over Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in adults aged under 50 years.
  • Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca can be used in adults aged under 50 years ­– where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.
  • People who have had the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.

Both ATAGI and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Dr Robertson said the Department of Health would continue to provide Western Australians with updated information as it became available.

He said vaccination was the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases.

“I ask Western Australians to listen to the health advice and please get vaccinated with the most appropriate vaccine for your age, when you become eligible.’’

Last month Dr Robertson released advice on people having anaphylactic reactions after information came to light about four cases of people potentially experiencing anaphylactic reactions (severe allergic reaction) within 30 minutes of receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in Queensland, which were reported to the TGA.

He said two Western Australians had been treated with adrenaline for an allergic reaction following Covid vaccination – one after receipt of the Pfizer vaccine and one after AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Both have a history of previous allergic reactions and both individuals responded well to a single dose of adrenaline and recovered under observation without further incident.’’