Young Canberrans shepherded towards Pfizer vaccine: here’s what’s changed

Dominic Giannini 12 April 2021 44
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said people under-50 will receive the Pfizer jab at the Garran hub. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Canberrans under the age of 50 will be shepherded towards the Pfizer vaccine at the Garran vaccination hub instead of receiving the AstraZeneca jab after concerns were raised over blood clotting in rare cases.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith confirmed that people under the age of 50 who are booked into the Garran hub, where both vaccines are administered, will be given the Pfizer vaccine.

The ACT Government is still working out how to manage people under the age of 50 who are booked in to get vaccinated by their GPs who administer the AstraZeneca jab, Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“We will be working through that over the next few days,” she said.

“The [Therapeutic Goods Administration] advice is that it is preferred not to provide AstraZeneca to people under 50 unless the benefit outweighs the risk, and that is a conversation people with underlying health conditions will want to have with their GPs.

“They may choose to go ahead because they see the potential consequences of getting COVID as being more significant than the potential to be subject to this very rare blood-clotting event.”

The change in the vaccine’s rollout came after the Commonwealth Government announced a preference for the Pfizer jab last week following advice from Australia’s vaccine advisory panel.

Rare cases of blood clots have been linked to the AstraZeneca jab around the world, with Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly warning that clots can appear in between four to six cases per million.


READ MORE: COVID-19 vaccination hub to open at Calvary Public at end of month


Australian medical authorities recommended that people over the age of 50 continue to receive the AstraZeneca jab, with the risk of clotting decreasing with age and the benefits outweighing the risk.

Those under the age of 50 in NSW and ACT will still be able to get the AstraZeneca shot but will be provided with an updated consent form.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly said there is no moratorium or ban on the AstraZeneca vaccine for under-50s, with the advice being a preference for one vaccine over another.

The Commonwealth has ordered an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, doubling the number of Pfizer doses due in Australia by the end of the year. Ms Stephen-Smith said the extra order had not impacted the number of Pfizer vaccines the ACT received over the weekend, with the 3000 doses that arrived being on par with what the Territory expected.

“We continue to hold a stock of Pfizer vaccines and AstraZeneca vaccines to ensure we can smooth out the appointments and the vaccination program here in the ACT,” she said.

“Our primary focus here is to deliver a safe and effective vaccination program that continues to build community confidence. It is really important that we maintain the confidence of the community in getting vaccinated.

“It is our pathway out of the pandemic.”

NSW briefly halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca jab for people under the age of 50 on Friday morning (9 April), but people in this age group will be able to choose whether they have the vaccination from today (Monday, 12 April).

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was up to people to assess the risk for themselves and make their own decision.

But the NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association advised doctors in the state against administering the vaccine for people under the age of 50 except in exceptional circumstances.

A pause on the vaccine for people under-50 continues in Victoria while the state works to translate information and consent forms from the Commonwealth into other languages, implement new training for staff to talk about the risks and address indemnity issues that have arisen.


READ ALSO: Signs of hope but figures show ACT hospitals still struggling


Ms Stephen-Smith denied that there had been inconsistency with the vaccine’s rollout.

“There is consistency in that we are all following the [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] and the [Therapeutic Goods Administration’s] advice,” she said.

“The [difference between jurisdictions] is primarily a management issue. The ACT is a small jurisdiction with one ACT Government vaccination hub and the general practices who were making their own arrangements in relation to the appointments they had coming up.

“It made sense for larger jurisdictions to place a pause so they can really understand the appointments they had coming up.”

Officials in the ACT worked overnight to review what appointments they had the next day and move people into the appropriate streams, she said.

For more information about the vaccine’s rollout in the ACT, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.


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44 Responses to Young Canberrans shepherded towards Pfizer vaccine: here’s what’s changed
Peter Lennon Peter Lennon 8:44 pm 15 Apr 21

I don’t get the “under 50” to this. Can someone explain it to me?

Warren Brompton Warren Brompton 8:15 am 14 Apr 21

“… the risk of clotting decreasing with age…”
This is incorrect.

According to the vaccination fact sheet:
“In the countries that have reported TTS, more cases have occurred in adults under 60 years of age compared to older adults, and in women compared to men. However it is not yet clear if age and sex are risk factors, since the AstraZeneca vaccine was preferentially given to younger people in some countries, and since women make up a large proportion of the healthcare workers that were prioritised for vaccination.”

There’s a lot of statistical misunderstanding and not enough clarity with the data available.

For example, over half of the deaths in the UK from blood clots are under 50 but how many people under 50 received the AZ vaccine vs how many over 50 received it?

For those of you unsure about the age recommendations it’s based on a risk analysis comparison of benefits of the vaccine protecting against covid versus the risk of side effects. Here in Aus we currently have a far lower chance of getting covid so the benefits of the vaccine are currently lower than in the UK where covid is still widespread. I.e In the UK you’re far more likely to suffer from covid than get serious side effects and so should take whatever vaccine is available.

    Warren Brompton Warren Brompton 8:18 am 14 Apr 21

    Maurice makes a valid point though that the chance of getting a blood clot is still statistically extremely small, and yes lower than getting run over. But nevertheless still there. You need to decide whether or not you cross the road.

Maurice Mccormack Maurice Mccormack 8:56 am 13 Apr 21

I know I am over 50 and I have had the jab no side affects I think the chances of a blood clot are about the same as getting rum over by a bus

Kerri Hallas Kerri Hallas 8:34 am 13 Apr 21

..... and this is why we wait and before getting it, “every action has a reaction”.

Dave Campbell Dave Campbell 5:52 am 13 Apr 21

Will not have to pay pension if we get blood clots and die us old people

Brad Falk Brad Falk 8:29 pm 12 Apr 21

Barrrrrrrr must be in power 😂😂

Sally Brown Sally Brown 8:25 pm 12 Apr 21

I want an explanation on this decision in medical terms I will not be having AZ.

David Hennessy David Hennessy 8:15 pm 12 Apr 21

Pfizer has rare instances of anaphylactic shock so I think it’s not an age based issue but an immune system based system issue.

Acton Acton 8:08 pm 12 Apr 21

According to Healthdirect.gov.au you are more at risk of blood clots if you’re over 65 years old. So if there is a higher risk of blood clotting from AZ, why give AZ to the age group at higher risk of blood clotting?

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 7:55 pm 12 Apr 21

I’m over 50 and I’m only interested in the Pfizer vaccine.

David Graham David Graham 7:54 pm 12 Apr 21

I take the risk of covid, seems less of a risk as im not overweight and have no health issues. Thats going of the percentages and research.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:34 pm 12 Apr 21

“The [Therapeutic Goods Administration] advice is that it is preferred not to provide AstraZeneca to people under 50 unless the benefit outweighs the risk, and that is a conversation people with underlying health conditions will want to have with their GPs.”

Sounds a bit like buck-passing and backside-covering when public statements to date by health authorities indicate that there are no discernible individual risk factors for the clotting reaction with the AZ vaccine.

There’s even less explanation for why the magic age in Australia is 50, compared to decisions made elsewhere.

    JC JC 3:38 am 13 Apr 21

    Be interested to hear that answer to.

    The figure varies so much around the world. UK it’s under 30’s and saw much of mainland Europe it is over 60’s.

Celeste Cummins Celeste Cummins 6:23 pm 12 Apr 21

So 50+ age group are expendable? 🤔

    Kylie Campbell Kylie Campbell 10:30 pm 12 Apr 21

    Celeste Cummins always have been not about to change now...

    Emilia Roberts Emilia Roberts 9:49 am 13 Apr 21

    Celeste Cummins over 50s haven't developed the blood clot so no. Different risks in each age group.

Nikola Rajak Nikola Rajak 6:19 pm 12 Apr 21

Key word - Shepherded

Sarah Stephens Sarah Stephens 6:05 pm 12 Apr 21

How do you actually make a booking at the Garran Clinic??

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 6:04 pm 12 Apr 21

what about the J&J one that has skin falling off? (rare case)

David Warner David Warner 6:03 pm 12 Apr 21

So it's ok did over 50s to get blood clots?

    Krystal Zoe Krystal Zoe 9:31 pm 12 Apr 21

    David Warner those over 50 are far less likely to obtain the same blood clotting that those under 50 are.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 9:38 pm 12 Apr 21

    Krystal Zoe can you explain that to me?

    David Warner David Warner 3:30 pm 13 Apr 21

    Not so far.....

    Steve Brinkman Steve Brinkman 4:57 am 14 Apr 21

    Margaret Freemantle she cant

Peter Hutchings Peter Hutchings 6:01 pm 12 Apr 21

As someone over 50 I am not keen on getting the AZ jab. Happy to get the Pfizer jab, but I am not sticking a vaccine into me that is deemed unsafe for under 50's.

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 6:26 pm 12 Apr 21

    Peter Hutchings The risk of blood clots from the AZ vaccine for over 50s is infinitely small. As opposed to the risk of covid. I'll be happy to get it. Especially because I wouldn't want to take a pfizer vaccine from someone under 30 who actually would have a higher risk of blood clots compared to severe symptoms from covid, even if both are very small.

    Sally Brown Sally Brown 8:17 pm 12 Apr 21

    Peter Hutchings me neither I’d rather go unvaccinated like many others from what I’ve read... y should the elderly be treated differently???

    Shane Taylor Shane Taylor 9:56 pm 12 Apr 21

    Peter Hutchings I don’t want to get Az jabbed by anyone.😂

    Jennifer Fraser-Brown Jennifer Fraser-Brown 5:48 pm 13 Apr 21

    Yep try the Pfizer one - the rate of anaphylaxis caused by the Pfizer vaccine is higher than the rate of thrombocytopenia from AZ 🤦‍♀️

David Brown David Brown 5:48 pm 12 Apr 21

What happens when we turn 50 that magically makes us safe from Astra-Zeneca?

I reckon Scotty from Marketing is willing to sacrifice a few seniors as the cost of his roll out. 😟

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 6:23 pm 12 Apr 21

    David Brown Here is your answer. And the AZ vaccine actually carries less risk than covid for anyone over 30, so they're being incredibly cautious.

    https://wintoncentre.maths.cam.ac.uk/news/communicating-potential-benefits-and-harms-astra-zeneca-covid-19-vaccine/

    Bernie Cummins Bernie Cummins 7:10 pm 12 Apr 21

    Lin Van Oevelen an interesting apparently conclusive study, though judging by experiences of my UK family and friends, according to their having long waiting times, the stats could be skewed by the younger ones having more perseverance in getting hold of a doctor, to get seen and then to get admitted to ICU

    David Brown David Brown 9:17 pm 12 Apr 21

    Lin Van Oevelen Why? What happens at 30?

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 9:24 pm 12 Apr 21

    David Brown You're less prone to severe symptoms from covid and slightly more prone to these particular blood clots. I don't really get your question?

    David Brown David Brown 9:28 pm 12 Apr 21

    Lin Van Oevelen I just want to know what magic change happens as you age that protects you against Astra-Zeneca. Why is a 29 year old at risk but a 31 year old is not? What changed? How do we know?

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 10:01 pm 12 Apr 21

    David Brown Did you look at the information from Cambridge University I posted?

Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 5:36 pm 12 Apr 21

What happens if you have already had the first jab of the AstraZeneca one?

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 5:55 pm 12 Apr 21

    If you have not shown any of the symptoms, you'll get the second as per normal.

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