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AstraZeneca blood clot concerns

The Australian Government has decided that the Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for people under 50. This is because of the possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.

So far in Australia, there have been a small number of cases of blood clots after having the AstraZeneca vaccination, but this side effect is rare. There have also been cases reported in the United Kingdom and Europe. However, the numbers of those affected compared to the number of doses that have been given is still low. In Australia, there have been around 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine given so far, meaning that the chances of getting blood clots here are 1 in 350,000 at the moment.

What’s happening overseas?

Millions of people in the UK and Europe have had the AstraZeneca vaccine without any major side effects. However, after data showed that there may be a connection between AstraZeneca and the risk of blood clots:

  • Germany has decided to not use AstraZeneca for people under 60
  • Canada has stopped using the vaccine for people under 55
  • the UK has recommended that people under 30 be offered other types of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Most of the cases of blood clots in countries using the AstraZeneca vaccine, have been people under the age of 55.

European authorities are still stressing that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the possible side effects.

Symptoms to be aware of

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said people shouldn’t be worried about common side effects, like fever, sore muscles, tiredness and headache just after receiving your vaccination.

However, if you’ve had the AstraZeneca vaccination it’s important to be aware of the following symptoms if they come up 4–20 days after you had the vaccine:

  • headaches that won’t go away after taking over-the-counter pain medication
  • blurred vision
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • leg swelling or abdominal pain
  • unusual bruising or round spots (not including where you got the injection).

The TGA said that you should see a doctor straight away if you have any of these symptoms.

What this means for the vaccine rollout

The AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be offered to people over 50 years of age and outside of the problem age group. People who are under 50 who have had their first dose of AstraZeneca without any negative side effects, can also still be given their second dose.

The Government has said that a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to adults under 50 where the benefit outweighs the risk for that person’s situation.

The Government has also ordered another 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine so that people under 50 can still be vaccinated. This means that Australia will receive 40 million Pfizer doses this year.

If you’re concerned

Australian and international medical experts and authorities still believe that the COVID vaccinations are safe and that the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any side effects. However, if you’re worried about being vaccinated or have any questions, please talk to your GP.

More information

The information for this article came from a range of resources. You can read more about the AstraZeneca vaccine in the following ABC News articles:

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has also released a statement about the AstraZeneca safety concerns on the Department of Health’s website.

20 April 2021
Applies to all states