We are now asking patients over the age of 78 yo to ring and make an appointment for COVID-19 vaccination.
In this last week there has been a lot of news about the AstraZeneca vaccination and the probable association with a rare side-effect, specifically ‘Thrombosis (clotting) with Thrombocytopenia (low platelets) Syndrome’, (or TTS).
The rate is estimated at 4-6 per million doses overseas. There has been one case identified in Australia.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) put out a comprehensive statement which we recommend and repeat here a few key parts relevant to our immunisation program at FMC:
- The AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective at reducing the risk of death or severe disease from COVID-19 across all adult age groups. At the present time, the AstraZeneca vaccine is the only vaccine option for reducing this risk for many Australians, since the global availability of alternative vaccines is highly constrained.
- ATAGI recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer (Comirnaty) is preferred over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in adults aged under 50 years. This recommendation is based on the increasing risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 in older adults (and hence a higher benefit from vaccination) and a potentially increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following AstraZeneca vaccine in those under 50 years.
- ATAGI consider that the individual benefit-to-risk balance of vaccination with COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in Australia varies with age. The risk of ongoing health issues and death from COVID-19 is highest in older age groups, particularly rising from 50 years of age. By comparison, the rate, and thus possibility of disability and death from TTS may be higher in younger people.
- In the context of the ongoing risk of COVID-19 in Australia, ATAGI considers that the benefit-to-risk balance is favourable for use of AstraZeneca vaccine in all older adult age groups.
In view of the above, we will continue to vaccinate with the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Medical Centre and do this in an orderly, safe and efficient way. (Please note that we are yet to hear when or indeed whether the Pfizer vaccine will come to us). To our minds, the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh the risk, particularly in the older patient.
The information on health.gov.au is updated regularly and is again recommended. Common vaccine questions are posed and answered; we urge readers to take advantage of this resource. Accurate information is needed to help ensure as many people get vaccinated as possible.