The AstraZeneca vaccine is now available at the local GP for all Australian adults who understand the risks and are willing to take the vaccine.
On the evening of June 28, following an emergency cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that while the British vaccine was recommended for peoples over 60, the advice now does not prohibit those under 60s from receiving it.
“The advice does not preclude persons under 60 from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Morrison said. “And so, if you wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, then we would encourage you to go and have that discussion with your GP, and we’ve already made announcements to support those additional consultations with the GPs so you can have that conversation.”
“Well, if [people under 40] wish to go and speak to their doctor and have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, they can do so,” Morrison later added.
Lieutenant General John Frewen said he did not think it was a backflip on previous health advice. Instead, he said it was about giving the public a chance to make informed choices where they understand the risk of getting COVID-19 against the risk of getting vaccinated quickly.
“What they’ve done is they’ve taken a very cautious approach to try to minimise any adverse effects at all … So we need to make risk-based judgements about giving people access to vaccines,” Frewen told Nine on June 29.
Morrison also announced the implementation of a no-fault indemnity scheme for general practitioners who administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
“And secondly, we are also providing the indemnity scheme for those general practitioners so they can actively engage with you and you can make the best decision for your health,” he said.
Under the scheme, GPs will not be liable for any side effects from vaccines that may occur in the recipient.
It is common practice for the government to indemnify newly researched medical products to give the pharmaceutical and health industry assurance to administer the drugs to the public.
President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Doctor Karen Price said the indemnity scheme means GPs can confidently start having conversations with younger people who want the AZ vaccine.
“I think the most important group would be those who have been hesitating about getting their second dose of AstraZeneca,” Price told 3AW radio.
Many Australians have been cancelling their second AstraZeneca shot after the government changed the health advice of the vaccine for use to people over 60 two weeks ago.