New advice on COVID-19 vaccines

There have been changes to the advice on COVID-19 vaccines. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine as the preferred vaccine for those aged 16 to 59 years.

Date published:
General public

As numbers of vaccinations increase all around the world, medical and vaccine experts are continuing to watch how vaccines are working in the community. This is very important, to make sure that the vaccines are safe and effective.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have updated their advice on the vaccines available in Australia. The Pfizer vaccine is now preferred for adults aged 16 to 59 years.

New evidence has shown that there is a higher risk than originally thought of the rare blood-clotting condition, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), for those who are 50-59 years of age.  

It is important that as many people as possible get the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. For people aged 60 years and over, the AstraZeneca vaccine continues to be the preferred option to stop severe COVID-19 sickness. The risk of TTS is very low, compared to the higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 as people get older. 

Watch and share a video of Michelle Steele talking through the new ATAGI recommendations.

What should I do if I am under 60 and have already had one dose of AstraZeneca?

People who have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious side effects can be given the second dose. This also includes adults under 60 years. It is recommended that second doses are given about 12 weeks after the first dose.

It is important you get the same type of COVID-19 vaccine for both doses. This is because the evidence from clinical trials shows this offers the best possible protection from getting seriously sick from COVID-19. 

What is thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)?

TTS is a very rare blood clotting condition that very few people experience after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Symptoms of this rare syndrome usually start between 4 and 28 days after vaccination. TTS 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.

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:

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