Date published: 
7 April 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

A concerning development this morning in Australia's COVID fight with a leading European health official claiming there is a clear link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots.

LEILA MCKINNON:         

For more, we're joined by Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Allison McMillan, in Canberra. Thanks for coming on the show. Can Australia still confidently keep administering this jab, given the growing uncertainty globally?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

I think we can and we've continued to do so whilst monitoring the information coming out of Europe. I know that ATAGI are going to meet again today to look at what the current data is saying and telling us and they've been in very close contact with colleagues in Europe and that's what we'll continue to do. We do have, obviously, safety at the centre of our program and if there's any concerns then ATAGI will give us that advice.

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

It is moving, isn't it? There are lots of moving parts here. I know the UK has stopped, I think, a rollout of this for young people. I think that may have even been a study of some kind and they've noticed in other parts of Europe that the vaccine has led to more blood clots amongst the young. So, all of that is concerning for the average punter sitting back there, no matter how rare it is, to go: okay, this is okay, the AstraZeneca.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Karl, I think, what I can say is that in Australia we have some of the best safety regulations in the world, with ATAGI and TGA. And as I've said, safety is our focus, if there's- our great experts, including Dr Allen Cheng, continue to monitor this and have done it all over the weekend. And if we do have any concerns, then ATAGI will give the advice to TGA and the Government will take that into consideration. But I want to reinforce, we do have safety as a major focus, but obviously there are always risks with any vaccine and we have to balance that risk.

LEILA MCKINNON:         

And yes - oh and of course, obviously, it's so much more dangerous to catch COVID. But our nation's advisory board is set to meet today, how do you think they'll respond to this latest development?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Ally, I'm not going to anticipate what they'll do. They certainly - generally make a statement once they have reached their discussion point. So, let's wait to see what they have got to say probably later today or tomorrow.

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

Can you give us some information? I know it's been reported, but I know there is still a level of concern given your field of expertise on the vaccination surrounding women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Can you give us some clarity on whether or not there are safety issues there?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Yes, Karl, the vaccines have not been tested extensively on pregnant women. But the more that they've been rolled out, we're seeing women who are or were planning to be pregnant, being vaccinated. As of yet, there is no evidence of any safety concerns. Our advice is for pregnant women to talk to their health professional, because it's relative to what their health needs are and whether it's worth them doing the vaccine or waiting till after they've had their baby. But we do know that there's nothing to suggest there's any problem with breastfeeding, even if you have the vaccine. So, again, we encourage women to continue to breastfeed. But, if you're pregnant or planning to be pregnant, talk to your health professional about this, because really, your health needs need to be covered by them, knowing what your particular circumstances are.

LEILA MCKINNON:         

All very sensible. Thanks very much.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Yeah, good to talk to you, Alison. Thank you.

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