NSW has paused administration of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine after the federal government received urgent medical advice relating to a rare but dangerous blood clotting side effect.
The state’s health department said in a statement on Friday it had temporarily put AstraZeneca vaccinations on hold in order to update “informed consent information” given to recipients ahead of their jabs.
For those aged over 50, the pause will only last for a few hours before jabs become available again.
That’s in accordance with the advice received by the Commonwealth government from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on Thursday night.
The federal government was advised the AstraZeneca vaccine should be given to people where the benefits outweigh the risks.
Those would include older people, for whom the risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus was greater than for young people.
“NSW Health has temporarily paused administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to all age groups at its clinics this (Friday) morning while the informed consent information is updated,” the NSW Health statement read.
“AstraZeneca vaccinations for those aged 50 years and over will recommence later today.”
Administration of the Pfizer vaccine will not be affected.
ATAGI has looked at evidence from colleagues in Europe, where there have been a small but concerning number of cases where people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine have developed blood clots.
A Victorian man has also become sick after experiencing the side effect.
The ATAGI advice means the Commonwealth will also rethink its AstraZeneca vaccine rollout.
Federal Health Secretary Brendan Murphy said on Thursday night the recalibration of the nation’s vaccine strategy was considered out of “an abundance of caution”, given only some four to six people in a million had become sick after receiving the vaccine.
A Victorian company that is already in the process of making AstraZeneca doses for use in Australia, CSL, will continue to produce those doses, he said.
“We still have a big need for AstraZeneca. It is going to be a really important vaccine to vaccinate a significant proportion of the population,” Mr Murphy said.
“So they will continue to make AstraZeneca.”