Australia bans AstraZeneca vaccine for children under the age of 18 due to concerns about blood clots
Australia has joined an increasing number of countries in banning the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for children under the age of 18 due to concerns that it could cause dangerous blood clots.
Officials said the AstraZeneca shot could no longer be given to people under the age of 50 unless they had already received the first dose without any adverse effects, which is a further setback for Australia’s already stumbling coronavirus vaccine rollout.
Shortly after the government’s medical advisory board voted to join European and other countries in restricting the use of AstraZeneca, Prime Minister Scott Morrison held an evening press conference to announce the decision. He explained the step by saying, “It has not been our practice to leap at shadows, it has not been our practice to take needless precautions.” ”Based on the latest medical advice, we’ve been taking the requisite precautions.”
With less than 30,000 cases and 1,000 deaths for a population of 25 million people and practically no ongoing group transmission, Australia has become one of the world’s most active countries in containing the spread of Covid-19. However, it has fallen well behind the government’s own timetable for vaccinating people against the disease, with just a million doses given out by Thursday, despite a promise to give out four million doses by last week.
Australia had planned to inoculate the majority of its population with AstraZeneca vaccines, first using doses imported from Europe and then locally produced vaccines. However, vaccine shortages in Europe caused AstraZeneca shipments to be delayed, and deliveries of alternative vaccines such as Pfizer/BioNTech and Novavax have yet to begin.
After being outright barred in many places due to blood clot concerns, several European countries have already discontinued the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine for younger populations. Blood clots should be identified as a rare side effect of the vaccine, according to the European Medicines Agency, but the benefits of vaccination appear to outweigh the risks.
Officials in Australia justified the 50-year-old threshold for receiving the vaccine by claiming that younger people were less likely to develop serious complications from Covid-19. They did say, however, that older Australians should continue to trust AstraZeneca vaccines.
Brendan Murphy, the head of the government’s health department, said, “I want to emphasize that we strongly encourage all 50 and older to take up the AstraZeneca vaccine — it is a highly effective vaccine at preventing serious Covid.”
He went on to say that the risk of blood clots from the vaccine was “extraordinarily low.” Just one case of blood clotting has been reported in a patient who obtained the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia. Morrison and Murphy expressed trust that enough doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Novavax vaccines will be available to complete the inoculation of adults in Australia.