Speaking after National Cabinet today, Secretary of the Department of Health Brendan Murphy said the Pfizer vaccine is “restricted to those under 50”, despite earlier advice that it was “recommended” for that age group.
“With a few exceptions, Pfizer is now restricted to those under 50,” he said.
“But people always have a choice and more Pfizer will be available later in the year. At this stage we will not be making Pfizer available to those 50 and over.”
“(For over 50s) we recommend AstraZeneca, the risk-benefit for over 50 is vastly in favour of being vaccinated.”
Professor Murphy said the vaccine rollout was going well and aged care residents were “almost done”.
“We have to finish off residential aged care. It’s nearly finished,” he said.
“We will soon have them completely protected and they are the single most high-risk group in this country and all around the world from COVID.”
Professor Murphy confirmed people aged over 50 will be able to receive AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as May.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the Pfizer vaccine will be prioritised for people under 50.
“Once again we enforce that Pfizer would be prioritised, the doses available for those under 50 and those 1A and 1B groups.
“They will also be prioritised to those in residential aged care facilities and disability care in remote and very remote locations, and for quarantine and those essential front-line workers who are working in those areas which are vaccinated by the states and territories,” Mr Morrison said.
That’s because many under 50s who qualify now, such as health workers, are opting not to have their the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the very rare chance of blood clots.
Officials earlier said people were eight times more likely to get blood clots from coronavirus itself.
“We also now have the capacity because we’re not giving under 50s AstraZeneca in the GP clinics and in some of the state clinic,” he said.
“We hope that Australians heed the call to come out and get vaccinated,” Professor Murphy said.
He added the risk factor was “vastly” in favour of getting vaccinated.
“I think our over 70s are getting the message that the risk of COVID is far, far, far greater than this very rare condition,” he said.
Those instances had the AstraZeneca vaccine and were people aged under 50.