AstraZeneca vaccine recommended for those over 60

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The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine be administered to people aged 60 and over, rather than those over 50 years as was previously recommended, Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Thursday.

Australia recommended that AstraZeneca's Covid-19 jab should not be given to people under 60 on Thursday, a fresh blow to the country's glacial vaccine rollout. There are now a total 37 confirmed and 23 probable cases of TTS in Australia. The first was a 48-year-old woman who died in April. Other probable cases include a man from the Northern Territory aged 54, a 65-year-old woman in Tasmania, a 58-year old woman from South Australia and 59 and 80-year-old men from Queensland.

Anyone who has already received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should still get their second dose.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said people should still have faith in the AstraZeneca jab.

The ATAGI's decision came after 12 new cases of "this rare, but sometimes very serious clotting condition" were identified in the last week.

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Guest invitations have also been sent out to nations including Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa. Other leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, arrived on Thursday and Friday.

"For most people, they have been diagnosed early [and] there is a large proportion of those with a less severe form of this rare syndrome".

"On the basis of the information we have had in Australia, we have not had a single case of this particular syndrome in a second dose".

About 25.5 per cent of the total population eligible for vaccination have received their jab, he added, but conceded the change to the advice would bring "some challenges".

While NACI initially said Canadians could opt for a viral vector shot like AstraZeneca if they didn't want to wait for an mRNA vaccine, the committee said today that the guidance has since "evolved" and a Pfizer or Moderna shot "should be offered to start a vaccine series, unless there is a contraindication, for example an allergy to one of the mRNA vaccine ingredients".

This week, Victoria halted bookings for Pfizer vaccination among concern about a lack of supply for second doses, however Minister Hunt said 1.7 million Pfizer doses would be delivered to Australia this month and 2.8 million from next month.

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