The Ministry of Health (MOH) is updating its vaccination protocols following reports of 23 deaths among those aged 80 and above in Norway, following their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
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Official reports of allergic reactions have been rare as governments rush to roll out vaccines to try to contain the global pandemic.
"The concept of limiting COVID-19 vaccinations to those below 75 years of age isn't supported by the US data covering over 14 million people inoculated, our analysis shows, despite Norway reporting a much higher death rate after using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine".
Last week, the USA drug manufacturer jointly with Germany's BioNTech drugmaker said they would reduce their vaccine shipments to the European Union member states for several weeks due to planned modifications on a production site in Belgium to boost production capacity starting mid-February.
Australia has secured 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is one of four supported by the Federal Government.
Earlier, the country signed an agreement to acquire ten million doses of the vaccine.
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As supply allows, the focus will shift to higher-risk retirement homes, select congregate care settings for older adults and high-risk healthcare workers.
Norwegian health authorities sparked concerns when they announced "common adverse reactions" to the vaccine "may have contributed to a fatal outcome" among the elderly nursing home residents. Madsen says it's possible that the side effects of immunization can, in some cases, "tip the patients into a more serious course of the underlying disease. Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment".
Dr Grenfell said the fatalities in Norway were not unexpected. Bloomberg quoted Pfizer as saying that the Norwegian authorities have found that "the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations". "There are also differences between countries in who is prioritized for vaccination, and this could also affect the reporting of side effects, including death".
Norway's medicine agency said it was unsurprising that some of the frail and elderly people who were first to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would have died around the same time by chance.
"Following that, we are updating our vaccination information to take into account the person's age and health history".