After a week of dizzying news surrounding Australia’s lagging vaccine rollout, we’ve been hit another blow overnight with calls the plan is now in “disarray”.
The Prime Minister announced during a snap, late night press conference on Thursday night that Australians under the age of 50 should not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and instead be offered an alternative where possible.
The news came after the Prime Minister met with health officials regarding the vaccine over suggestions it may be linked to blood clotting.
The PM said regulators made the decision to offer an alternative following confirmation of a “rare but serious risk” of fatal blood clots.
Chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said the fatal blood clotting was a “very rare event”.
The change came after a rush review by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) that advises on the vaccine strategy and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The PM said the Pfizer jab is now “the preferred vaccine” for those under 50.
“The Government accepts the advice from Australia’s medical experts and will move swiftly to ensure Australia’s vaccination program and advice to patients is adjusted accordingly,” a statement to news.com.au read.
“The Australian Government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians.”
Australia’s COVID-19 rollout is largely dependant on local manufacture of the AstraZeneca vaccine — and this announcement could be a spanner in the works.
On ABC’s 7.30 program, host Leigh Sales described it as a “huge development given how reliant Australia is on the vaccine.”
Sky News’ political reporter Tom Connell echoed those comments, saying the rollout will most likely be affected by the news.
“There are a lot of impacts on this rollout. The overall rollout is going to be delayed,” he said.
But AMA Vice president Dr Chris Moy said on Sky: “It’s probably not going to make as much of a difference as you might think”.
Liberal member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman backed Mr Morrison on Thursday night’s ABC QandA program after host Hamish Macdonald described it as “a very big moment for Australia”.
He said it was important to recognise that “safety comes first”.
An under 50 frontline worker who had received her first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine appeared on the program and said: “It would have been nice to receive the news 24-hours ago”.
“I don’t regret getting vaccinated, hopefully every thing will be OK”, she said.
In a fiery interview with Sales on Tuesday night, Professor Brendan Murphy said he “rejected” the idea Australia was failing in its COVID-19 vaccination program.
Dr Murphy “completely rejected” Sales’ accusation that the Australian public sees the rollout as “anything other than amateur hour”.
And it seems the response to Thursday nights news is no different. Commentators including Patricia Karvelas described the vaccine strategy as a “bungle”, meanwhile the PM had “failed”, according to others.
Meanwhile Opposition leader Anthony Albanese labelled the PM “arrogant” in a fiery tweet.
Here’s the talk online.