Date published: 
12 April 2021
Type: 
News
Intended audience: 
General public
New advice on AstraZeneca vaccine

There have been changes to the advice around the COVID-19 vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine is now preferred to the AstraZeneca vaccine for adults aged under 50 years. This recommendation is based on:

  • the higher risk that older people have of getting really sick from COVID-19
  • and the potentially higher risk of people under 50 years developing thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following AstraZeneca vaccine. This is a rare syndrome that involves blood clots.

According to available data, symptoms of this rare syndrome usually came up between 4 to 20 days after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. It usually appears as a headache that doesn’t go away with pain medication (like paracetamol or ibuprofen), vomiting, confusion and/or seizures.

People should seek medical attention immediately if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • severe persistent headache
  • neurological symptoms (blurred vision, difficulty with speech, drowsiness, seizures)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • swelling in your leg
  • persistent abdominal (belly) pain
  • tiny blood spots under the skin away from the site of injection.

ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) have clearly said that the AstraZeneca vaccine can still be used in adults under 50 years. This will be the case:

  • where the benefits of being vaccinated are higher than the risks of this rare condition,
  • and where the patient has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits (an informed consent).

Everyone who has already had their first AstraZeneca vaccine dose with no serious side effects can receive their second dose.

Common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine usually last a couple of days, such as feeling mildly sick, having a sore arm, headache or fever.

If you have any side effect that worries you, please call your doctor or health clinic.

Resources for vaccine providers

As new advice is given, the Department of Health works hard to ensure that information on the website is updated as quickly as possible. Listed below are pages that have updated information: