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Friday 9 April 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
Dear sector colleagues,
As you may be aware, there was some news overnight that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended changes to the Australian COVID-19 vaccine program. A complete list of the recommendations that have been accepted by the Australian Government can be found on the Department of Health website.
Most significantly, ATAGI has recommended the use of the Pfizer (Cominarty) vaccine in adults aged under 50 years.
ATAGI has carefully considered the latest vaccination findings out of Europe and the UK, which follow extremely rare instances of people developing a very specific syndrome involving blood clots with low platelet counts after having taken the AstraZeneca vaccine. This rare syndrome is called ‘thrombosis with thrombocytopenia’.
In Europe, approximately one in every 250,000 people vaccinated with AstraZeneca is diagnosed with the rare blood clots. One person in Australia has developed the syndrome after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. The South Australian Government and SA Health advises that it is important to note that the AstraZeneca vaccine remains highly effective in preventing death and severe illness among people who have contracted COVID-19, and that the incidence of the blood-clotting syndrome is very rare.
Importantly, ATAGI has advised that people who have had the first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine - without any serious adverse effects - can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years of age.
ATAGI and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will continue to review the evidence on a regular basis and will issue further changes and advice as any new evidence emerges, or the epidemiological situation changes.
The Australian Government is now working with states and territories to determine how those under the age of 50 in phase 1 of the vaccine rollout can access the Pfizer vaccine in a timely fashion.
National Cabinet and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which is comprised of all state and territory chief health officers and chaired by the Australian Chief Medical Officer, met today to discuss the ATAGI recommendations. The Commonwealth is now in the process of developing guidelines and related resources around informed consent for those people under 50 for whom the risk of contracting COVID-19 far exceeds the potential risk of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Information for immunisation providers will also be updated.
It is expected that this information will begin to be made available from today and over the course of the weekend. The department will continue to provide updates and links to resources as they become available.
I appreciate the significant levels of anxiety and confusion you may be feeling as a result of these recent announcements. As the State Government works with the Commonwealth to recalibrate its rollout strategy, we will keep you informed at every stage.
As always, SA Health remains our trusted source for information on COVID-19. For more information visit the SA Health website or access updates via Facebook or Twitter. SA.GOV.AU is a dedicated COVID-19 gateway, linking to relevant information on state and federal government websites.
Disability Accommodation providers should continue to follow the advice of the Commonwealth via the NDIS and Department of Health Disability Provider alerts.
If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to contact DHS’s COVID-19 Response team at DHSCOVIDResponse@sa.gov.au
Ngaityalya (Kaurna: thank you)