The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) as the preferred vaccine for those aged 16 to under 60 years. This updates the previous preferential recommendation for Comirnaty over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in those aged 16 to under 50 years. The recommendation is revised due to a higher risk and observed severity of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) related to the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine observed in Australia in the 50-59 year old age group than reported internationally and initially estimated in Australia.
For those aged 60 years and above, the individual benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine are greater than in younger people. The risks of severe outcomes with COVID-19 increase with age and are particularly high in older unvaccinated individuals. The benefit of vaccination in preventing COVID-19 with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca outweighs the risk of TTS in this age group and underpins its ongoing use in this age group.
People of any age without contraindications who have had their first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse events should receive a second dose of the same vaccine. This is supported by data indicating a substantially lower rate of TTS following a second COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca dose in the United Kingdom (UK).
Frequently Asked Questions – what you should know
What is the new ATAGI advice?
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have reviewed their advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine. They have recommended that Pfizer is the preferred vaccine for people aged under 60 years.
This doesn’t change who is currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, but it means if you are under 60 it is preferred you get the Pfizer vaccine.
Why has the advice changed?
ATAGI have made this recommendation because of new evidence that shows the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS (which is a rare blood clotting syndrome) in the 50 – 59 age group is higher than initially thought.
I’ve had my first dose of AstraZeneca, should I get Pfizer for my second dose?
No, this isn’t necessary. If you have had your first AstraZeneca vaccine dose without any serious side effects, you can receive your second dose as planned.
To ensure maximum long-term immunity, it is important you receive two doses of the same COVID-19 vaccine.
I’ve had my first dose of AstraZeneca and have side effects that I am worried about. What should I do?
If you have recently had your first vaccine dose and are experiencing any side effects that you are worried about, it is recommended you see your doctor.
I am 60 years or over, is the AstraZeneca vaccine still safe for me?
Yes, the AstraZeneca vaccine is still safe for you.
The risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS (which is a rare blood clotting syndrome), is much lower in people aged 60 years and over.
Additionally, if you are aged 60 and over you are much more likely to become seriously unwell if you catch COVID-19.
I’m booked in for my first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and I am under 60, what do I do?
If you are aged under 60 years, and you have an appointment to receive your first dose of AstraZeneca, it is recommended you cancel this booking.
You can schedule an appointment at a Pfizer vaccination site. If you need to find the site closest to you, you can use the vaccine eligibility check on health.gov.au
Where can I get a Pfizer vaccine?
Some Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics are currently providing the Pfizer vaccine, along with many state-based clinics All CVCs and many General Practices will have the Pfizer vaccines during June and July. Queen Street Medical Centre will advise the community if the Pfizer vaccine will be available at our practice.
To book an appointment, you can use the vaccine eligibility checker.
If an appointment is not available right away, new clinics and appointments are being added regularly, so you can wait a few days and check again.
I am under 60, and I am fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca, do I have to get Pfizer now?
If you have received both doses of the vaccine you do not need to get vaccinated with any other COVID-19 vaccine.
For more information click on this link: ATAGI Statement 17 June 2021
*Source: Department of Health