‘Do not get AstraZeneca’: Qld bombshell

By | June 30, 2021

Queensland authorities have unloaded on the federal government over the vaccine rollout in comments that are likely to generate further confusion about the troubled AstraZeneca jab.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Covid-19 update one day into a snap three-day lockdown, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk pushed back on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Monday night announcement encouraging under-40s to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Ms Palaszczuk said the advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the state’s chief health officer Jeannette Young had not changed.

“There has been no national cabinet decision about providing AstraZeneca to under-40s,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Let me say that again – there’s been no national cabinet decision about providing AstraZeneca to the under-40s.”

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The Premier said national cabinet had only agreed one part of the PM’s announcement relating to an indemnity scheme for GPs.

“So that is very clear that national cabinet did not make that decision (about under-40s),” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“I’d like to ask the Prime Minister, did his cabinet make that decision? Now, in Queensland, we always follow the advice of the chief health officer. So I urge Queenslanders to listen to Dr Young, and follow the advice of our chief health officer. Also, we follow the medical advice. And the medical advice is very clear.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the advice remained that under-40s should be offered alternatives to AstraZeneca “due to a link with rare blood clots”.

“So my message to Queenslanders today, is please listen to Dr Young and listen to the health experts when it comes to the vaccine,” she said.

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“At the moment, the advice is for people aged 40 to 59 to get Pfizer, and people 60 and over to get AstraZeneca. There has been no national cabinet decision about AstraZeneca being given to under-40s.”

Dr Young was even more forceful.

“I do not want under-40s to get AstraZeneca because they are at increased risk of getting the rare clotting syndrome,” she said.

“We’ve seen up to 49 deaths in the UK from that syndrome. I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got Covid, probably wouldn’t die. We’ve had very few deaths due to Covid-19 in Australia in people under the age of 50, and wouldn’t it be terrible that our first 18-year-old in Queensland who dies related to this pandemic died because of the vaccine?”

She urged Queenslanders to come forward and get vaccinated, especially healthcare, aged care and disability workers.

“You are an absolute priority – you must come forward and get vaccinated,” she said.

“Then, anyone aged 40 through to 59, if they can get a booking.”

Dr Young said Queensland was “going to be using every dose of Pfizer vaccine that we get from the Commonwealth”.

The state is expected to run out of Pfizer by Monday.

“The Commonwealth has said they will start distributing more Pfizer vaccine to GPs when they get some,” she said.

“Now, anyone who is aged 60 years or older, please, if you haven’t already, immediately make a booking. There’s plenty of AstraZeneca vaccine available. Make a booking to go to your own GP, go to one of the pharmacies, or go to one of the Commonwealth vaccine centres. Some of our hospital and health services will also have AstraZeneca vaccine. If you have already had one dose of a vaccine, it is vital you get a second dose of the same vaccine. It doesn’t matter what your age is. You need to get a second dose of the same one.”

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Speaking in Sydney after Queensland’s press conference, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed that national cabinet had made no decision regarding under-40s receiving AstraZeneca.

“What national cabinet agreed to, which is on the public record, is that GPs would not face any legal consequences if they administered the vaccine to anybody, to make sure that they can administer the vaccine with confidence depending on their health advice,” she said.

“I won’t comment beyond that but to say that if you’re under 60 and you want the AstraZeneca, you should have a conversation with your GP. What the NSW government will continue to do is follow the health advice of the federal regulators. The federal regulatory bodies are the ones that provide advice.”

Ms Berejiklian was pressed on whether NSW would vaccinate under-40s with AstraZeneca.

“The NSW government always follows the health advice and the health advice from the federal regulatory bodies is that those over 60 should be getting AstraZeneca,” she said.

“If you’ve had your first dose of AstraZeneca, you should be getting your second dose and that is certainly what NSW health clinics will be doing. We will accept anybody over 60 who wants AstraZeneca and accept anybody getting their second shot, but beyond that, you should talk to your GP.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan also said people under 40 shouldn’t get AstraZeneca.

“The advice is they shouldn’t,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“I can only advise what we have been advised by ATAGI, they say it shouldn’t happen. There is a different approach by the Commonwealth to that advice. With health advice, lots of doctors give you different advice at different points in time. That is the advice we have and that is the national advice from the immunisation experts. Clearly, the Commonwealth has taken a different approach.”

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Asked “who is advising the Prime Minister, then”, Mr McGowan replied, “I don’t know the answer to that.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Health Minister Greg Hunt was grilled over the federal government’s bungled messaging on vaccines.

Speaking on Today, he agreed that Pfizer was still the preferred vaccine for under-40s.

“Pfizer is the preferred vaccine,” he said.

“That’s what has been received from the expert body and that remains the case, and it’s always been the position that people under that could, nevertheless, access the AstraZeneca through what’s called informed consent.”


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