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The Australian Government has announced that anyone under the age of 40 can now go to their GP and ask for the AstraZeneca vaccine. This is a massive change to the nation’s vaccine program.
Previous medical advice meant that many younger Australians were not able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. This is due to the possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots. This added to the delays in the nation’s vaccine rollout as the Pfizer vaccine needs to be imported from overseas. However, after an emergency National Cabinet meeting on 28 June, the medical advice now lists the Pfizer vaccine as just a ‘preference’ for people under 60.
This means that as long as people under 40 years old are made aware of the risks and accept these, they can now choose to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Australian Government is asking people to talk to their GP. If they want to get vaccinated, they will be able to straight away.
The Australian Government has also announced measures to protect GPs through an indemnity scheme. This scheme means that GPs are not responsible if a patient develops any negative reactions to a coronavirus vaccine. These measures will give GPs more confidence to give young people the vaccine without worrying about legal action if something goes wrong because of the AstraZenenca vaccine.
The Australian Government's announcement has caused some controversy in the medical community. For example, Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young, has urged people under 40 years not to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. She argues that the risks of the vaccine currently outweigh the benefits in Australia's COVID-19 climate.
Find out more about the AstraZenenca vaccine on the Department of Health website.