Given the growing COVID-19 outbreak, adults from locked-down hotspots in Queensland are now advised by the ATAGI to get the AstraZeneca vaccine – despite Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young‘s conflicting messaging on the safety of the jab.
Queensland is currently dealing with the state’s most serious COVID threat since last year, with 31 cases linked to an escalating cluster of the Delta variant and 11 LGAs under lockdown.
Despite the crisis, Dr Young has been stubbornly refusing to endorse the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged under 60 – even though Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant have been urging all adults to get the jab if we want to get out of this pandemic.
“I do not want under 40s to get AstraZeneca, because they are at increased risk of getting … that rare clotting syndrome,” Dr Young said on June 30.
“I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got COVID, probably wouldn’t die.”
Since then, COVID-19 outbreaks have gotten significantly worse. In NSW, there are currently seven individuals with COVID-19 aged in their twenties who are in ICU.
On Monday, Dr Young continued to avoid endorsing the vaccine.
“I said I didn’t want 18-year-olds to have AstraZeneca. And I still don’t. Even now,” she said, adding that nobody under the age of 60 should consider AstraZeneca.
However, it looks like her refusal to support under 60’s getting the vaccine has been overridden.
The ATAGI’s advice is that the Delta variant’s contagiousness outweighs any minor risks associated with the AstraZeneca jab, and that it is strongly advised for those living in or near outbreaks to get the vaccine.
“In a large outbreak, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca are greater than the risk of rare side effects for all age groups,” the advice currently states.
Now that south-east Queensland is under lockdown, it actually fulfils the criteria for being a “large outbreak” – and therefore the official health advice for any adults residing in that area is to strongly consider getting AZ, even if Dr Young doesn’t agree.
why is this important? Because as recently as this morning, QLD's chief health officer Jeanette Young was saying she was following ATAGI advice in recommending younger people against AZ:
"I said I didn't want 18-year-olds to have AstraZeneca. And I still don't. Even now"
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) August 2, 2021
“In terms of Queensland, our message is that the ATAGI advice has been reframed. If you are over 60, AstraZeneca is your preferred vaccine. If you’re under 60, it is something, in a hotspot… that people should strongly consider,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
When asked if Queensland was eligible, Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd said the 11 LGAs under lockdown are a “commonwealth hotspot” and therefore “meets the definition of a significant outbreak.”
You can check out our guide on how to book your AstraZeneca vaccination here.
Alternatively, you can triple-check to see if you’re eligible for the Pfizer vaccine here.
The best vaccine is the first one you can get, and that’ll be our ticket out of this mess.