Friends, daddy Pfizer is coming our way, with the announcement that it will become readily available to all Aussies aged 16-39 as of August 30. Obviously, this comes with a shit-tonne of questions, so that’s where I come in to answer them as best as I can for you.
Although Pfizer was approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to be administered in Australia back in January, 16-39 year-olds could only get the jab if they fell into one of the priority categories (such as healthcare worker or disability care resident).
Now, young people will be able to access Pfizer or AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria if you’re nasty) at their own discretion, given that their GP confirms they are suitable to receive either. But, how can we make a Pfizer booking, what are the side effects and what else should we know before we embrace the jab?
Here’s everything we know and do not know about Pfizer now that young people are eligible.
Who is eligible and when?
Young people aged 16-39 will be eligible as of August 30, but have been told by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to hold off on booking a Pfizer appointment until instructed otherwise.
“It isn’t today. Not today,” he said in a press conference on August 19.
“We will advise when the time will come over the course of the next week. But advising you, it has been a question put to me for some time as when we’d bring that 16- to 39-year-olds forward.”
According to Morrison, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is currently considering whether to open up Pfizer to the 12-15 age bracket as well. Information on this decision is apparently “not too far away.”
When is the vaccine actually available?
Thing is, we don’t actually know exactly when we’ll be able to access the glorious bounties of Pfizer, but it’s safe to imagine it might be a bit of a wait to get a booking, even though we’re all eligible as of next week (August 30).
Earlier this month, the Government snagged one million more doses of Pfizer from Poland, with 530,000 going straight to young people in LGAs of concern in Sydney, so it’s unclear whether or not everyone else will have Pfizer readily available to them.
We also know that in February 2021, the Government purchased 10 million Pfizer vaccines, which in addition to the November 2020 purchase of 10 million makes 20 million incoming vaccines.
However, on top of this, there was an April 2021 purchase of another 20 million, so around 40 million jabs are heading our way… and they’ll be here… soon. (Morrison reckons “quarter four of the year” to be exact).
How do I make a Pfizer booking?
First things first, you should check your Pfizer eligibility at this handy site here, which is no doubt going to update in a couple of days.
That same site will allow you to book your Pfizer vax (or your AstraZeneca vax if you’d like), but it hasn’t yet been changed to consider the eligibility being brought to young people.
When Pfizer becomes even more readily available, you can also have a chat with your GP about booking in your jab, because you’ll be eligible as hell!
How long until you’re fully vaxxed if you book on August 30?
A study from Oxford University reckons that “8 weeks is the sweet spot” for ultimate effectiveness when it comes to waiting between Pfizer shots, but the usual waiting time is 3-6 weeks.
So, at least, you could be waiting 21 days between Pfizer shots. If you happen to book in on August 30 and get an appointment relatively soon at the start of September, that could see you fully vaxxed by October, which is phenomenal.
How long until you’re fully vaxxed if you keep your AZ booking?
Well, 12 weeks seems to be the AZ sweet spot, but waiting times are being reduced, especially in NSW, where getting people fully vaxxed in an absolute priority.
Just go with whatever your GP tells you to, which should be between four weeks and 12.
So, if you keep your booking for AZ and get vaxxed relatively soon, you’ll be fully jabbed by October at the earliest, November/December at the latest. Pfizer may get you to the finish line faster, but the race is what’s most important, and AZ legends will still get there in good time.
How effective is Pfizer vs AZ?
The first dose of Pfizer is just a little stronger than the first AZ dose, but after double doses, the efficacy is basically the same for both vaccines.
If you’re really into numbers, a Doherty Institute Report crunches down the efficacy of the vaccines in the face of Delta and it’s a super interesting read, or there’s this UK report from Public Health England which compares the effectiveness of the two and concludes that it’s pretty even.
Despite this, the Doherty Institute says that the best vaccine is ultimately the one that you can access earliest, so get to it!
What are the side effects?
As we have heard time and time again, the benefits of getting vaxxed far outweigh the risks.
However, Pfizer (and Moderna) can give heart inflammation as a very rare side effect. It’s an extremely rare occurrence, which happens slightly more often in younger people, but just like the clotting in AZ, it’s super easy to treat if detected.
So I’m in hospital after developing rare heart inflammation linked to Pfizer. And even with this side effect, I would get the jab again. Side effects can be treated, dying from Covid-19 can’t. The benefits far outweigh the risks. ???? ???? #pfizer #getvaxxed #sydneystrong pic.twitter.com/pMPBl6Z7la— Georgia Clark (@GeorgiaBClark) August 11, 2021
Signs to look out for include chest pain, a pounding or fluttering heartbeat, and feelings of breathlessness.
So friends, that’s all you need to know about good old papa Pfizer, or at least, everything we can tell you so far.
Remember to get vaxxed, stay healthy, bathe, and start thinking about presents for the holiday season, time is moving way too fast.