The AstraZeneca vaccine for under 40’s

So the PM dropped a bombshell last night.

Anyone under 40 can get the Astra Zeneca vaccine, as long as they understand the risks associated with this. Though this has thrown twitter into turmoil, I wanted to clarify a few things.

There has never been a ban on AstraZeneca in the under 60 age group

ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) has always suggested that the Pfizer Cominarty vaccine was preferred in people 49 and under (then 59 and under) due to the risk of TTS (Thrombosis with Thrombocytopaenia Syndrome).

However people could still opt to get whichever vaccine if they were under 60. The messaging was geared towards driving under 60 to pfizer to reduce the risk of TTS (which is a really good reason), but the risk benefit analysis then was before the current Delta variant and it’s spread.

In a world where the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is really low, then up until the age of 60 the odds of being hospitalised, ending up in ICU or dying from COVID-19 was lower than the odds of TTS.

But in a world where the risk of transmission is high, the odds flip in a rather dramatic way.

AZ HarmsBenefits high exposure.png

Now I will admit, that the data here is presented from the end of April 2021, but to be honest the risk of transmission and severity of disease has only increased since then. And since it takes seconds to transmit, and exposure sites are increasing by the hour – saying we’re all at high risk of exposure isn’t being over the top.

If the PM says under 40’s can have AZ, I’m not going to argue

The only way out of a pandemic is through high levels of full immunisation in our community. Risk is extremely personal and difficult to comprehend even with all the information available. And if the risk of TTS is too high at 3.1 per 100,000 first doses (or 1.96 per 100,000 doses if you rely on UK data – where 8.6million people under 50 have received AZ) then I will not push anyone to be vaccinated.

But if you feel the risk is justified by having increased protection against infection and severe disease from COVID-19 – then I am also here to provide advice, as well as a safe venue to receive your vaccination and have it uploaded to the AIR. I’ll let the state ministers and the eligibility website update when they feel like it.

You need to be fully immunised for it to be worth it

Initially the advice for the AstraZeneca vaccine was to have the doses 12 weeks apart. The rationale for this was that it seemed to provide even further increases in immunity. It was almost an accidental finding after they needed to delay the second dose in the UK – as they wanted more people with some coverage, than less people with full coverage.

From the time AZ has been available in Australia, the advice has always been a second dose can be safely given 4-12 weeks after the first dose. All booking providers made the time interval automatically 12 weeks to ensure people would have the highest level of protection.

However with the delta variant, 1 dose is nowhere near as effective as 2. So our website will allow people to rebook their second dose from 4 weeks – pending availability. If you already have a second dose booked, you may change your booking to earlier if there is a slot available.

As we are able to get more vaccines and ensure there is enough staff to deliver it, we will try make more appointments available on Thursdays.

This doesn’t change anything in regards to Pfizer

Pfizer doses via GP clinics are still subject to the eligibility criteria as part of the rollout phases.

This means to be eligible you must be;

  • Frontline health and border/quarantine workers 16-59
  • Other healthcare workers, aged care workers, and disability workers (16-59) and residents (unclear on age here)
  • 16-59 with significant medical condition or disability
  • NDIS participants 16-59
  • Adults aged 40-59 not in other categories

Essentially if you truthfully answer the questions on the eligibility checker, you’ll know if you qualify for Pfizer.
The criteria for Pfizer vaccines run through state based clinics can be different, particularly in states other than NSW – so check those website for more information and bookings.

At GSH the Pfizer vaccine will be available from the 10th of July and if you want to know when bookings will be available – Please do not call! – but sign up to our email newsletter via the Contact Us page. All bookings will be done via our website and using the online booking system. If you are struggling with it, ask a friend, family member or neighbour. Unfortunately our reception team can’t help you with making a booking.

So if you’re 59 and under, and want the AZ vaccine – watch both videos and book in online.

Thanks for reading,

Dr Daniel Chanisheff 29/6/2021