Officials had advised that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine be given to people aged 60 and over, rather than those aged 50 and over as previously recommended.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement on Thursday saying the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) made the recommendation.
Adults aged 59 and under would now be offered Pfizer’s vaccine based on the updated advice.
“ATAGI experts today updated their advice to recommend the preferred Pfizer vaccine for adults 59 years of age and under.
“ATAGI’s advice remains clear that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is very effective in preventing serious illnesses caused by COVID-19.
“This updated advice received today is based on new evidence demonstrating a higher risk of the very rare disease TTS (thrombocytopenia syndrome) in the 50-59 age group.”
According to him, AstraZeneca remains recommended for people aged 60 and over due to the much higher risk of illness and death from COVID-19 in this age group, and the lower risk of this disease.
Despite the change, Hunt said the rollout is on track and every Australian who wants to get vaccinated will receive at least their first dose by the end of 2021.
ATAGI’s decision came after 12 new cases of “this rare, but sometimes very serious bleeding disease” were identified last week.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the medical advice was that people who received their first dose of AstraZeneca without any side effects should receive their second dose.
“Anyone who has received a first dose of AstraZeneca without a problem should feel very confident about receiving their second dose. “