Over 50s now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine 

The COVID-19 vaccine being administered.  (Photo: Unsplashed )

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Australians over the age of 50 are now eligible to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as the country enters Phase 2A of the national rollout.

From today, over 50s will be able to receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at general practice respiratory clinics and State vaccination clinics.

Other participating general practices will be able to administer the vaccine to people aged over 50 from May 17.

WA Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook rolled-up their sleeves this morning to receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a vaccination clinic at the Claremont Showgrounds.

Two cases of rare blood clots were linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine last month, which led the Therapeutic Goods Association to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for people aged under 50 and the AstraZeneca vaccine for those aged over 50 years old.

Pioneer Health’s respiratory clinic began administering the jab to over 50s today in Albany, having been allocated 400 doses of vaccine per week.

“The vaccine is the best protection we have against COVID-19 infection,” Pioneer Health GP Dr James Turner said.

“It is safe and effective and is the only one available to over 50-year-olds before the end of the year.”

Despite the vaccine’s potentially life-saving capabilities, Dr Turner said there has been some uncertainty in the community over its safety.

“There has been some vaccine hesitancy in relation to the very rare side effect called Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia syndrome which has been associated with the vaccine,” he said.

“The risks of this complication are very low, however, people are weighing up the risks of COVID compared to the risk of this rare complication.

“To assist with decision making about this I would point people to look at the detailed information on the Department of Health website or speak to their usual GP.”

In response to the TGA’s updated vaccine advice, National Cabinet agreed to bring forward the rollout of Phase 2A to make 15.8 million doses of the vaccine available for Aussies aged 50-69.

“The Albany Respiratory Clinic is well prepared to undertake the vaccination program,” Dr Turner said.

“We are planning for larger numbers of people booking vaccine appointments and are well prepared to increase our vaccine clinics to meet patient demand.”

For optimal protection against coronavirus, a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is required with a 12 week-gap between jabs. 

For more information about the vaccine, visit health.gov.au or speak with your GP.

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