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Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe for young people?



The Australian PM recently announced adults of all ages would be eligible to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite conflicting health advice

Australia’s government has made the AstraZeneca vaccine available to people under 60. While the Federal government has announced the change, under 40s won’t be able to book for a few days while the system is updated.

AstraZeneca is the country’s preferred vaccine for people over 60 based on the health advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

The ATAGI says for those aged 60 and above, the benefits of preventing COVID-19 with the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risk of TTS. Also, people who have already been vaccinated with their first dose should proceed with their second, even if they’re younger than 60.

However, there are some rare but serious complications for vaccinated young people. So, what are these potential complications? And do they outweigh the risks of contracting Covid?

“If you wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, then we would encourage you to go and have that discussion with your GP.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Head of the COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce, Lieutenant General John Frewen, told Nine they were working to update the booking system now. 

“We’ll be onto it as quickly as we can, and I really think people should be able to start making arrangements, you know, in the days ahead, and in the next couple of weeks I hope to see the effect of these new policies,” he said.

Talk to your GP about potential health risks

President of the Australian Medical Association Dr Omar Khorshid said people should speak to their GP about the risks of AstraZeneca.

“GPs are in the best position to assess risk and talk to patients about vaccines.

“Any Australians under the age of 60 wanting to have AstraZeneca, talk to your GP who can advise on the risks as outlined by ATAGI and in relation to their own health.

What are the chances of getting a blood clot from AstraZeneca?

Medical professionals have linked the AstraZeneca vaccine to a blood clotting disorder called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

TTS is extremely rare and treatable. It’s likely to occur with the first dose of AstraZeneca. However, the rate of clotting incidents is low.

TSS symptoms can include a severe headache that doesn’t go away, abdominal pain, blurred vision, and leg pain or swelling. They appear four to 30 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, with a peak time of six to 14 days.

In Australia, the mortality rate for TTS is about 4 percent, which is about a 1 in a 2 million chance of death.

This is about the same likelihood of being killed by lighting.

For people aged under 50, there have been 3.1 cases of clotting per 100,000 first doses. Medical professionals can treat the condition with blood-thinning medication.

AgeEstimated risk of TTS for AstraZeneca first dose
<50 years3.1 in 100,000
50-59 years2.7 in 100,000
60-69 years1.4 in 100,000
70-79 years1.8 in 100,000
80+ years1.9 in 100,000
(Source: Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation)

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

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