PM, premiers to meet over vaccine rollout

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will chair a meeting of state and territory leaders to thrash out vaccine rollout changes with the AstraZeneca jab no longer recommended for under-60s.

National cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss what the increased reliance on Pfizer imports means for the sluggish immunisation program.

AstraZeneca is not recommended for people under 60 after experts determined the risk of extremely rare but serious blood clots outweighed the jab’s benefits.

The recommended age has been revised up from 50, meaning all eligible people under 60 will be offered Pfizer.

Mr Morrison, who is in quarantine at The Lodge after an overseas work trip, met virtually with health officials, ministers and a high-ranking army officer overseeing the rollout on Friday.

Lieutenant General John Frewen is helping co-ordinate logistical issues arising from the new advice.

Labor has seized on the rollout’s latest setback to reignite its argument the government relied too heavily on AstraZeneca.

Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles said the latest Victorian lockdown and an emerging Sydney outbreak showed the importance of ramping up jab rates.

“We are going to be living in the land of the lockdown until we get vaccinated,” he told the Nine Network.

“That is on the federal government to make sure that happens.”

Pfizer supplies from overseas have become even more crucial with 2.1 million unvaccinated people aged 50 to 59 now needing the vaccine.

The health minister has spoken to the pharmaceutical giant’s Australian head to ensure deliveries remain on track.

During July, 2.8 million doses are due to arrive taking the average weekly delivery to 600,000.

“It still means that people in these age groups from 40 to 59, we’d gently ask for their patience,” Mr Hunt told Nine.

More than 840,000 people under 60 who have received their first dose of AstraZeneca are being encouraged not to cancel second-jab appointments.

That’s because the extremely rare blood clotting condition, which has led to two deaths from 3.8 million doses, almost always only occurs after the first injection.

Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly urged people to get a second jab, which significantly boosts protection from serious illness.

“It is really important to get that full protection and get two doses,” he told the ABC.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said doctors had developed effective treatments meaning most people who developed the rare clots recovered fully.

“People who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be alarmed by this decision,” he said.

“The risks of serious complications, including clotting, from the AstraZeneca vaccine are very low and Australia is now very good at detecting clots in patients who’ve had the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

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