Australians over 50 are being urged to roll up their sleeves and receive the AstraZeneca vaccine rather than waiting for alternatives.
Medical experts are worried Australia’s success in controlling coronavirus could be put at risk if vaccinations are not rolled out quickly enough.
There are fears complacency is creeping into some parts of the community and concerns some older Australians are reluctant to get the AstraZeneca jab because of its link to a small number of rare blood clots.
Cabinet minister Peter Dutton believes the way the cases are being reported could be part of the reason people are choosing to wait for alternative vaccines such as Moderna and Pfizer to arrive later this year.
Mr Dutton said the 24 cases out of 2.1 million doses of AstraZeneca administered in Australia needed to be put in perspective.
“These things happen in a normal season where there’s an adverse reaction to someone getting a vaccination, whether it’s an adult, someone getting the flu vaccination each year, or if it’s a child,” he told Nine on Friday.
“These adverse reactions happen and they’re not reported in a normal season.
“To put it in perspective, yes, there are cases where there have been blood clots, but the doctors knowing all that are still as one advising Australians to get the vaccine as soon as they’re eligible.”
Epidemiologist Catherine Bennett has called for calm after six new cases of rare blood clots were linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Professor Bennett said it was reassuring new cases remained extremely rare.
“We’re looking at a situation where we are still seeing this rate of between one or two per 100,000,” she told Seven.
“We’re looking at a range of cases with people with quite mild examples which are being picked up now.
“This is good for stopping it, you want to have that level of follow-up and make sure we are detecting what is going on.”
Prof Bennett said most of those who had developed blood clots suffered mild side effects and made a full recovery.
“There have been cases who have been treated outside of hospital,” she said.
“They haven’t even gone into hospital and were back to work pretty quickly. It’s good to know that. I do think it makes people realise this is not always serious.
“We don’t want anyone to have blood clots if it can be avoided but it is very low occurrences and a full range from relatively mild to the more severe.”
Union boss Sally McManus warned Australia’s health and economic recovery won’t be secured while the vaccine rollout stalls and the community continues to receive mixed messages from the government.
“We will never be in a position where we can have certainty about the future until we speed up this vaccines rollout,” she told the ABC.
“At the moment it’s extremely slow and it’s one of the main things that will hold us back in terms of jobs and in terms of recovery.”
Ms McManus said the government appeared reluctant to launch a major advertising campaign because it did not want to raise expectations they could not meet.
The government says it is spending $40 million on advertising and a campaign targeting older Australians will be released soon.