Open access to AstraZeneca has divided under-40s, with some running out to get their jab while others are hesitant, saying the messaging around its safety is too confusing.
Pfizer is still the preferred vaccine for people under 60, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced anyone under the age of 40 can now request AstraZeneca through their GP.
So are many of now-eligible Australians The New Daily spoke to on Tuesday.
Mr Morrison hoped making the vaccine available for anyone, regardless of age, would defuse much of the confusing messaging surrounding the CSL-made vaccine.
Elly, 31, said she’s more confused than ever.
She said the fact the PM had changed the eligibility without it being backed up by Australia’s peak bodies had sent a confusing message about its safety for her age group.
“It has created a lot of confusion for everyone. I’m just going to wait until it’s more clear,” said Elly, confirming she’ll wait until she’s eligible for Pfizer.
Australian Medical Association vice-president Chris Moy told The New Daily the announcement could be “a game changer”.
“The advice is about a preference for under 60. It wasn’t an absolute rule,” Dr Moy said. He said under-40s had the right to decide if they would make an informed decision to get it.
“As they would for any other treatment. So should they get it?
We’re talking about a rare occurrence of blood clots and we are working in a COVID environment,” he said.
“The under-40s may lead us out of this. They understand it isn’t just about them, it’s about the community.”
Herd immunity – where the majority of the population is vaccinated – is what epidemiologists repeatedly say is what’s needed for Australia to progress to COVID normal.
Angus, 30, says he understands the need for a community-minded approach to vaccines, and will be lining up to get his AstraZeneca shot.
“With how things are going, I’m more likely to catch the virus and pass it on to someone more vulnerable, than I am to get blood clots from a vaccine. I’m willing to take that risk,” the charity worker said.
The fact many other countries, including the UK, had used the vaccine gave him confidence, he said.
“I’m not deterred, but I was confused by the change in messaging,” he said.
“These announcements should be improving confidence in the vaccine, but they seem to be doing the opposite.”
Though some GPs won’t feel comfortable administering the vaccine, Dr Moy said it was a doctor’s job to present the treatments on offer, let the patient weigh the pros and cons, and choose what was best for them.
That’s what Madeleine will be doing.
She has booked a consultation with her GP for later this week.
“My primary concern is not getting COVID-19. It is a horrific, deadly disease that has left many people with ongoing health problems,” the 32-year-old said.
The youth worker said she had been confused by the messaging, but will make the decision in conjunction with her GP.
“I do not feel confident that I will be able to get one of the more reliable vaccines because the federal government has made such a mess of the rollout,” she said.
“I will take what I can get.”