Response to latest ATAGI advice

A statement from Professor Paul Kelly, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer in Response to latest ATAGI advice.

Date published:
Media type:
Media release
General public

The highest priority in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains to protect the safety of the Australian population.

Our response continues to be based on the best medical and scientific advice available.

This includes advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC),  the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI)

The advice received today from ATAGI reaffirms its advice provided on 8 April 2021 that the Pfizer vaccine be preferred for adults under the age of 50. 

ATAGI’s advice about preferencing the Pfizer vaccine for adults under the age of 50 was based on a potentially increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (TTS) following AstraZeneca vaccination among those aged under 50.

The Government immediately accepted the ATAGI advice provided on 8 April 2021 that the Pfizer vaccine be preferred for adults under the age of 50. The Government’s vaccine rollout plan was recalibrated based on this advice.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will now be made available to all people aged 50 or over through GP-led Respiratory Clinics and state and territory clinics from 3 May 2021.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will be available to all people aged 50 or over through our network of general practices from 17 May 2021.

The recalibrated vaccine rollout plan is consistent with the advice received from ATAGI today – that Pfizer is the recommended vaccine for those under 50 years of age.

The Government’s response to the pandemic has always been flexible.

Our medical experts provide advice about taking a vaccine based on a risk-benefit analysis.

The current evidence indicates the risk of someone over 50 developing the thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) side effect from the AstraZeneca vaccine is very low.

The majority of deaths and severe illness associated with COVID-19 around the world are among older people. The AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective at preventing severe illness and death due to COVID-19 – and the benefits to people aged 50 and over greatly outweigh any risk of TTS.

The AHPPC, ATAGI and at the TGA are constantly monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging evidence on vaccines – both domestically and internationally – and will continue to provide expert, independent advice to the Government.


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