30 June 2021

Barr says PM made "captain's call" on AstraZeneca jab as confusion reigns

| Dominic Giannini
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Felicity Manson and Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Canberrans should follow the ATAGI advice with regards to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Confusion continues over whether people under 60 should approach their GPs for an AstraZeneca dose following conflicting advice from the states and territories and the Commonwealth.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has described comments from the Prime Minister about who can take Astra Zeneca as “a captain’s call” that caught many people off guard, including GPs and other first ministers.

Following a National Cabinet meeting on Monday night (28 June), Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while there was a preference for AstraZeneca to be made available to people over 60, “the advice does not preclude persons under 60 from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine”.

“If you wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, then we would encourage you to go and have that discussion with your GP,” he said.

When asked directly if changes to the indemnity for COVID-19 vaccines meant people under 40 would be able to talk to their GPs and get the jab immediately, Mr Morrison said, “if they wish to go and speak to their doctor and have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, they can do so”.

Today, Mr Barr said, “there was nothing agreed at National Cabinet [but] I think technically it was not required to be agreed by National Cabinet”.

“The discussions focused on the supply of particular vaccines. The relationship between the Commonwealth and the GP network … is not a relationship that states and territories have an involvement in.

“I would not have expected it would have come to National Cabinet for a decision, and it was not a National Cabinet decision. It is one that the Prime Minister has made on his own accord.”

Mr Barr said Canberrans should follow the health advice on the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) website.

Nurse prepares vaccine at Calvary clinic

The ACT Government-run vaccination hub at Calvary will not administer AstraZeneca to people under the age of 60. Photo: Supplied.

An ATAGI statement from 8 April reads: “AstraZeneca can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.”

But Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young seemingly contradicted the Commonwealth’s encouragement for people under 40 to talk to their GPs about receiving AstraZeneca.

“We are not in a position that I need to ask young, fit, healthy people to put their health on the line getting a vaccine that could potentially significantly harm them,” she said.

“I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, even if they got COVID, probably wouldn’t die.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also said there had been no national cabinet decision about AstraZeneca being given to people under 40. She urged Queenslanders to listen to Dr Young.

But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said people under the age of 60 who wanted to receive an AstraZeneca jab should talk to their GP.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith maintains that, in line with the ATAGI advice, anybody under the age of 60 who wants to get an AstraZeneca vaccine should contact a GP to discuss this option.

But an ACT Government spokesperson said the Territory would not administer AstraZeneca to people under 60 at its vaccination hubs.

“Having a conversation about the risks and benefits of a vaccine is best placed with a GP who better understands the health circumstances of an individual and can help a patient to make an informed decision,” the spokesperson said.

“A mass vaccination clinic is not an appropriate place for a person to have a detailed risk discussion about the vaccine. We do not want to put additional pressure on healthcare workers within our clinics who are administering many vaccinations each day.

“The ACT Government position remains that any person who has a concern about a COVID-19 vaccine should speak to their GP or healthcare provider before making an appointment.”

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billyates19557:20 am 03 Jul 21

I have received my first jab of AZ, I am 67y/o and have had no side affects. I wish the same for all others who gets vaccinated with the AZ vaccine.

RIOTACT’s selective use of a Barr quote in the headline misrepresents the essence of the article. Fail, RIOTACT.

Capital Retro9:47 am 01 Jul 21

Barr is no stranger to “captain’s calls” and the quote from an article in the SMH titled “Barr Confirms Desperation” published 18th June 2016 confirms this:

“Andrew Barr has confirmed the desperation of Labor as October 15 approaches. The captain’s call to offer Brendan Smyth the specially created position of Commissioner for International Engagement for five years, at a salary of $300,000 per year, three months out from the ACT election is further confirmation of the man’s arrogance, his contempt for the people of the ACT as well as his desperation.”

Glass house syndrome?

The Statement agreed to by all the Premiers and Chief Ministers from the National Cabinet meeting said “National Cabinet noted that GPs can continue to administer AstraZeneca to Australians under 60 years of age with informed consent.” (see https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-cabinet-statement-5)… Storm in a tea cup…

Stephen Saunders7:33 am 01 Jul 21

On top of Morrison’s near-daily A-Z backflips, and blunt refusal to invest in and deploy safe quarantine, today comes news of 10,000 April “tourists” displacing citizens stranded overseas.

With unsafe Trump, WaPo and NYT openly abandoned journalistic even-handedness, and seemed to push back too hard. But the Capitol Invasion proved them right.

On the back of a year’s overwhelming COVID evidence, I call on Australian media to take a similar stand against Morrison, whose adverse personality and aggressive behaviour rule him out as a fit and proper leader. No, this is not necessarily a call for Labor.

HiddenDragon6:57 pm 30 Jun 21

Being confused, or pretending to, is a common reaction when people hear things they don’t want to hear.

Claiming to be confused by the actions of rivals and opponents is also, of course, a standard political diversionary tactic – which might be why most of the noise about the changed federal government messaging on AstraZeneca vaccine has come from the two Premiers whose states have seen the biggest, and most embarrassing (thus far), stuff-ups in handling the Delta variant of the virus.

There might have been less confusion now if the public messaging from Australian governments and medicos about AstraZeneca had been more honest and nuanced from the outset – and thus more respectful of the intelligence (and ability to Google about what’s happening in the rest of the world) of the general public.

If no one want AstraZeneca you might as well give it to the panic striken worry warts. Otherwise it will go to waste

The government is caught in a bit of a catch 22 here.

The ATAGI advice against the AZ vaccine for certain groups exists because the risk of COVID is so low. Mainly because we haven’t re-engaged with the world and found a sense of normalcy.

But we can’t re-engage with the world until the majority of us are vaccinated, which will be delayed because of the ATAGI advice against the AZ vaccine.

Which means we need to source more of the scarcer vaccines to complete the job. And fast.

Very true. What a pity we didn’t pickit up last year when it was offered.

I dont think its reasonable to claim that the government should have a crystal ball to predict the outcome of which vaccines were going to be successful last year. Although they’ve now been slow in trying to make up for the shortfall due to the change in advice on AZ in the last couple of months.

No one knew last year which vaccines were going to work, the government attempted to pick a number of different ones to cover us and were only partially successful. The big challenge is how they now recover from that setback in the next 6 months.

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