A fresh appeal has been launched for Australians to get the AstraZeneca jab, as Victoria and Adelaide set their sights on exiting lockdown and Sydney heads towards an extension of restrictions.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation strongly recommends everyone in Sydney get any jab available, including AstraZeneca.
Pfizer remains the preferred vaccine for under-60s, but any adult can seek an AstraZeneca jab from their doctor.
NSW recorded 145 new local cases on Monday with Sydney’s ongoing coronavirus crisis likely to lead to a lockdown extension.
Although Victoria reported 11 new local COVID-19 cases, all cases were in quarantine for the entirety of their infectious periods and record testing rates gave the state government confidence it could lift the lockdown as planned on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, South Australia is also likely to end its week-long lockdown on Wednesday after reporting one new case linked to an existing cluster.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was critical to follow medical advice on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was available in enough supply to meet “all the demand across Australia”.
“The important message which comes out of ATAGI’s revised advice for people in Sydney is that people of all ages have a clear message – the benefits of AstraZeneca outweigh the risks,” he told reporters on Monday.
Mr Hunt also took aim at protesters and people spreading misinformation online.
“Frankly, I condemn it in the same way that I condemn the protests on the weekend because they were endangering people.”
NSW is set to open a hub which will offer AstraZeneca in a bid to make better use of its ample supplies.
“There are no supply constraints around AstraZeneca and it is a very effective vaccine,” NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
AstraZeneca itself pointed to global medical advice showing its vaccine was effective against the contagious Delta strain circulating in Australia.
“Regulatory authorities around the world have stated that the benefit of using our vaccine significantly outweigh the risks across all adult age groups,” the company said.
More than 750 million doses of AstraZeneca have been supplied to more than 170 countries in the past year.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said getting vaccination rates higher was “our ticket out of this crisis”.
Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie said the risk of side effects from AstraZeneca was incredibly low.
“We have had the privilege here in this country, the choice maybe, to choose the Lamborghini versus the Ferrari of COVID vaccines when we really just need to be getting vaccinated,” she said.
Just over 16 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
Ten people, including a woman aged in her 30s, have died during Sydney’s outbreak taking the national coronavirus death toll to 920.
The ATAGI advice on AstraZeneca balances the risk of developing rare blood clots against the benefits of protection against coronavirus.