Australians should trust the advice of the experts when deciding on their COVID-19 vaccination, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said.
“The AMA has supported the decisions made by independent scientific experts – the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) – to keep Australians safe throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Khorshid said.
“The Federal Government has also accepted this advice. While the changed advice about the AstraZeneca vaccine may seem confusing, and further delays to the rollout are frustrating, Australia is in the very fortunate position of being able to watch and learn from the experiences overseas.
“Communicating in this rapidly changing environment has been a challenge for the Government but it is critical for Australia’s future that public confidence in the vaccine program is maintained. “
Dr Khorshid highlighted that the patient-GP relationship is one of the most trusted and important relationships in every person’s life. GPs can provide the best advice about any medications or vaccines to their patients, including the risks and benefits of treatment. He said that GPs are guided by Government advice about the incredibly rare but serious thrombotic events associated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which has made decision making more difficult for those under 50 who are currently eligible for the vaccine.
The Astra Zeneca vaccine remains very safe and effective, and access to the alternative, preferred Pfizer vaccine is likely to be delayed. Patients under 50 that have already received their first dose of Astra Zeneca without significant adverse events can be given their second dose. AstraZeneca can continue to be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.
“Our advice for Australians with questions is to make an appointment with their GP for a full discussion about the possible risks and benefits of having the vaccine, or of not having it, taking into account of their own specific circumstances,” Dr Khorshid said.