COVID-19 vaccinations will now be available to people under age 40 in Australia.
Before this week, Pfizer jabs were available to over 40s and AstraZeneca had been offered to those more than 60 years of age. After a national cabinet meeting on Monday night, AstraZeneca jabs will become available to people under 60.
A professional indemnity scheme will be established for GPs who administer the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the measures in a press conference on Monday night. “We will be implementing a new no fault indemnity scheme for general practitioners who administer COVID-19 vaccines. So this relates to encouraging Australians to go and chat to their GP about their vaccination and to have their vaccination administered,” he said.
“The [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] advice talks about a preference for AstraZeneca to be available and made available to those as preferred for those over 60. But the advice does not preclude persons under 60 from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. And so if you wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, then we would encourage you to go and have that discussion with your GP and we’ve already made announcements to support those additional consultations with the GPs so you can have that conversation.
“We are also providing the indemnity scheme for those general practitioners so they can actively engage with you and you can make the best decision for your health.”
There is very low risk of rare blood clots, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, occurring as a result of the AstraZeneca jab. ATAGI says that the estimated risk of TTS from the first jab is around 3.1 in 100,000 for under 50s.
The rate of death from the few that do get TTS is even smaller, three per cent.
Mr Morrison also announced that COVID-19 jabs would become mandatory for residential aged care workers as a condition of working. Workers must have at least one dose of a vaccine by September this year.
“The Commonwealth will work together with the states to ensure compliance with those orders because we have those direct relationships and reporting relationships with the aged care providers,” he said. “We want to make sure that this won’t have a negative impact on available workforce and to support that, the Commonwealth has decided today and I’ve signed off on implementation of an $11 million grant program to encourage residential aged care facilities to provide staff with leave to get vaccinated.”
COVID-19 outbreaks at aged care facilities had fatal consequences last year. An outbreak at Bupa Edithvale claimed 17 lives after 44 residents contracted the virus.