Australia has limited use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to those 60 and over, recommending that younger adults receive the Pfizer-BioNTech jab instead amid instances of rare, severe blood clots. The country has seen 60 cases of blood clots, including two deaths, after administering 3.3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, Reuters reported.
The country’s advisory panel cited an increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (TTS) following AstraZeneca vaccination in people ages 50-59 in announcing the policy change.
“There appears to be a small risk of [thrombosis with thrombocytopenia] in people 60 years and over, but this risk appears to be lower than in younger people,” the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) said. “Cases overseas have been reported at all ages.”
However, the panel notes, those ages 50-59 who have already received a first dose of AstraZeneca and did not experience abnormal side effects are still advised to receive the second dose.
In April, the panel had recommended the Pfizer vaccine as the “preferred” jab for people under the age of 50 due to reports of TTS. The latest update, published Thursday, notes that the “recommendation is revised due to a higher risk and observed severity of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) related to the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine observed in Australia in the 50-59 year old age group than reported internationally and initially estimated in Australia.”
The country has administered over 6.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and has only approved the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech jabs for use.