The announcement came after drug regulators held a series of urgent meetings earlier today. This followed advice from the European Medicines Agency that it had found a possible link between the injection and rare blood clots.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he received a series of recommendations from an advisory group on Thursday evening, and the main one was that the Pfizer vaccine should now be adopted as the preferred vaccine for those under the age of 50 years old.
Morrison said the recommendations were made with great caution due to the rare but serious side effects, which have mostly been associated with younger people.
“We took the necessary precautions based on the best possible medical advice,” Morrison said. “It is not our practice to jump in the shadows.”
The Australian Immunization Technical Advisory Group also recommended that people under the age of 50 who had already received their
injection should be given their second injection, as medical opinion indicated that rare blood clots did not develop until after the first dose.
The group said that it is only when the benefit clearly outweighs the risk that a first injection of AstraZeneca should be given to someone under the age of 50.
Healthcare workers under the age of 50 who were scheduled to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine will now be given priority for the Pfizer vaccine, which will likely delay the inoculation process.
Indeed, as part of Australia’s vaccination strategy, most people were to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Opposition politicians said the European agency’s findings highlighted the danger in Australia of not making vaccine deals with other suppliers.
The move in Australia came after UK authorities recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be given to adults under the age of 30 whenever possible. Several other countries have also imposed limits.
These restrictions are closely watched as the vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store than many others, is essential to global immunization campaigns and is a pillar of the UN-backed program known as COVAX which targets to provide vaccines to some of the world’s poorest. countries.