Younger Australians should consider AstraZeneca vaccine only in pressing circumstances: Experts

The head of Australia's expert vaccine panel warned on Thursday that younger Australians should consider getting the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine only in pressing circumstances.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that people under 40 could consult their doctor "if they wish to go and speak to their doctor and have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine."

The announcement came weeks after the government restricted access to the vaccine to only over-60s on the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI).

ATAGI Co-chair Christopher Blyth said on Thursday that younger people should consider getting the AstraZeneca vaccine only in pressing circumstances.

"There are some situations where that would be warranted, but they are quite small," he stated. 

"The ATAGI advice is that Pfizer is our preference for those under the age of 60 years."

The Australian government acquired 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine - 50 million of which will be manufactured domestically while supplies of Pfizer vaccine remain tight.

According to a statement on Thursday, the ATAGI said it examined estimates of risk of Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) by age group in Australia and "note that there have been 69 cases of confirmed or probable TTS (41 confirmed cases; 28 probable cases) in around 4.8 million doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca given up to June 15, 2021."

As of Thursday afternoon, there have been 30,643 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were 27 and six respectively, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

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