Australian over-50s warned to not delay COVID vaccination

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CANBERRA, May 21 (Xinhua) — Medical experts have warned Australians over 50 not to delay getting their coronavirus vaccines despite blood clot fears.

Omar Khorshid, the president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), told News Corp Australia on Thursday that with winter approaching Australia is “vulnerable to a coronavirus outbreak.”

“The best way to protect our community is for the vulnerable to be vaccinated, especially those aged over 70, who are vulnerable to very bad outcomes if they contract coronavirus,” he said.

His comments were a response to Health Minister Greg Hunt, who implied earlier that over-50s currently eligible for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine could choose to wait until doses of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are available late in 2021.

Due to blood clotting concerns, the Australian government endorsed a new vaccine rollout plan in April that will fast-track vaccinations for over 50s with AstraZeneca doses and offer the Pfizer vaccine to people under 50 years.

However, Khorshid warned that over-50s who delay vaccination over blood clot fears will not be high on the priority list for the Pfizer or Moderna shots “because they’ve chosen not to have the vaccine available to them.”

“That would be a bad thing for Australia if we had a large number of our vulnerable population not vaccinated because they had this perception that one vaccine is better than the other when the data does not at all show that,” he said.

Bruce Willett, the vice-president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), said it would be an “enormous risk” for anyone to delay vaccination.

“The risk-benefit analysis is clear that people need to go and get it – it’s a risky strategy to wait,” he said. “My advice to my patients is get vaccinated, do it now.”

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on Thursday announced six new cases of blood clotting in Australia linked to AstraZeneca vaccine, including five who were above 50 and one 18-year-old. It takes the total number of cases of clotting disorder linked to vaccines in the country to 24.

As of Friday morning, there have been 3.38 million coronavirus vaccines administered in Australia.

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