A group of the nation’s leading medical professionals have urged Australians not to wait for the Pfizer vaccine and to get jabbed with AstraZeneca, giving the stark warning that the “only options” are being vaccinated or dying from Covid.
In a story published by the Australian, more than a dozen health officials, including former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth, pleaded with Australians to get the jab.
They addressed community concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine and the preference for Pfizer.
“First is safety, and the commonly expressed concern by patients that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not safe because of a link to a rare blood-clotting syndrome. Second is efficacy, and the current broadly held perception by patients that Pfizer offers better protection,” the group said.
“In terms of safety, the side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the blood-clotting syndrome called thrombosis thrombocytopenia syndrome is rare. For Australians over 50, the incidence of TTS following the AstraZeneca vaccine is about one in 50,000. In people under 50, the incidence is about one in 35,000.
“Death has occurred in about 5 per cent of people who had TTS, a less than one-in-a-million chance of dying as a result of vaccination. The low mortality rate compared with other countries is likely due to rapid implementation of improved diagnostic techniques and earlier effective treatments.”
They added that there is a slightly higher risk in young people, however this is still not as dangerous as the virus.
The risk of death for those diagnosed with Covid-19 in Australia is one in 35 (around 2.8 per cent). This is higher in older age groups and there are longer unknown effects about the virus.
The group pleaded with Australians to roll up their sleeves to help the country, and community, return to normal.
“Australia is at a critical point in the pandemic. In the past month we have had Covid lockdowns in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Vaccines offer our only pathway to safeguarding the health of the community, preventing unnecessary deaths, avoiding the financial and health costs of future prolonged lockdowns, and opening our country back to the world,” they said.
“It is a phenomenal feat of human ingenuity and collaboration to have even one vaccine available so quickly after this new viral challenge arose. To get back to our normal lives, we need to make the most of every vial of every vaccine made – including AstraZeneca.”
Experts urging vaccinations
The experts who put their name to the plea were:
- Bruce Robinson, endocrinologist, Royal North Shore Hospital
- Nick Coatsworth, infectious disease and respiratory physician, Canberra Hospital
- Mark Hertzberg, haematologist, Prince of Wales Hospital
- Tony Cunningham, virologist, Westmead Institute for Medical Research
- Michael Grigg, vascular surgeon, Box Hill Hospital
- Vijay Roach, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Royal North Shore Hospital
- Tania Sorrell, infectious disease physician, University of Sydney
- Bernie Hudson, infectious disease physician, Royal North Shore Hospital
- Steve Hambleton, general practitioner, Brisbane
- Gemma Figtree, cardiologist, Royal North Shore Hospital
- Danny Hsu, haematologist, Liverpool Hospital
- Ian Frazer, clinical immunologist, University of Queensland
- Lyn Gilbert, senior researcher, Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity
- Anthony Holley, intensive care specialist, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital
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