Top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions – AstraZeneca for under 60s, over 60s, and side effects

Department of Health

Top 3 news

Top 3 Professor Alison McMillan

5:16

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Good morning and welcome again to the Top Three. We are here this morning to give you a new update. So today, we are reminding everyone of the importance of keeping up-to-date with all the current information about COVID-19 and about the Covid vaccine rollout program. It’s very important that we ask you to go to a reliable source of information, so either go to the state and territory you are in, the Health Department website, or to health.gov.au, which is the Commonwealth website which will give you the most reliable information about COVID-19 and about the vaccine rollout.

First question, I’m booked in for my first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and I’m under 60, what do I do?

As we know, last week, based on the current evidence, ATAGI made the recommendation to government that we change the type of vaccine recommended for the 50 to 59-year-olds. If you have an appointment for AstraZeneca and you are 50 to 59, you can now change that appointment to a Pfizer vaccine. Effective immediately, 1300 Commonwealth vaccine clinics are now offering the Pfizer vaccine to 50 to 59-year-olds and from 5 July, GP clinics across the country will be again offering the Pfizer vaccine to 50 to 59-year-olds. We do ask you to be patient, as you know, many people are really keen to get their vaccine and we are getting to as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. If you’ve got any questions, of course, ask a health professional or your general practitioner about your choice of a vaccine.

Second question, I’m over 60 years old, why is the AstraZeneca vaccine okay for me to have but not someone younger?

So when we look at the decisions around the recommendations of vaccines, we look at many aspects. We do know that the incidence of thrombus with thrombocytopenia syndrome, of this TTS condition, or you may know better as blood clots, does present much more frequently in the younger* age group than in older people. For people 60 and over, the benefit of the vaccine in protecting against severe disease and death is much greater protection than if you were to get COVID-19 virus, the chances of you getting severe disease or dying is much, much higher than the risk of any side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine. So we do suggest that if you’ve got any concerns, do talk to your general practitioner, but again, it’s really important to understand that the vaccine is the best protection for you against COVID-19, which does have severe outcomes of disease and death.

And finally, I’ve had my first dose of AstraZeneca and have side effects that I’m worried about, what should I do?

For most vaccines including AstraZeneca, the symptoms after your vaccine are quite mild, usually of pain at the injection site, headache, fever, chills. These are short-term side effects and resolve pretty quickly. The syndrome that I have mentioned, thrombus with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, manifests usually between days four to 28 after the first AstraZeneca vaccine. The symptoms are a really severe headache, not being able to be managed with painkillers, sometimes blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. If you have any of those symptoms, we recommend that you seek medical attention immediately. If you don’t have these symptoms, but you are still feeling a little unsure, do ask a health professional or seek some advice if you are concerned. Again, thank you for joining us at Top Three this morning and I hope you have a great day.

*Note: Corrected to younger age group from older age group, which was said in error.

Top 3 questions

  1. I’m booked in for my first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and I am under 60, what do I do?

  2. I am 60 years or over, why is the AstraZeneca vaccine okay for me to have but not someone younger?
  3. I’ve had my first dose of AstraZeneca, and have side effects that I am worried about, what should I do?

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