Four people have had an allergic reaction to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Queensland, prompting the state to urge people with a history of anaphylaxis to avoid getting the jab.
“Some people who have had severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis in the past that they are reacting to the AstraZeneca and this issue is being raised at a national level,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.
The cases in Bundaberg, Toowoomba and two in Ipswich all happened in the past 48 hours with the state government alerting the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The government has advised anyone with a history of anaphylaxis to avoid getting the vaccine.
“In the meantime we are putting in place precautionary measures that anyone who’s got a severe allergic reaction in the past, any sort of allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, that they delay getting the vaccine.
“Or alternatively we will be observing them for longer after their vaccination.”
Queensland Health director-general John Wakefield said allergic reactions were rare but “not a surprise” with a nurse previously having a reaction to the Pfizer jab earlier in March.
“The issue with this is getting four within a 48-hour period. We probably need to have a closer look at it,” he said.
Anyone in Queensland with a history of anaphylaxis is also being urged to delay getting the vaccine.
Those who decide to go ahead with it will be observed for half an hour afterwards, rather than the usual 15 minutes.
“The right thing for us to do is to preserve the trust of our Queenslanders and just add that extra blanket of safety whilst this is being worked out,” Dr Wakefield said.
Federal Health Secretary Brendan Murphy said people shouldn’t delay their vaccination, but discuss it with their doctor.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the TGA’s initial assessment had found the vaccines to be safe and effective.
“We don’t believe they should delay vaccination,” he said.
TGA boss John Skerritt said there had so far been five reactions to the AstraZeneca vaccine and 19 to the Pfizer from 200,000 people vaccinated across Australia by Wednesday afternoon.
That level of reactions was to be expected, he said, and it was likely that all the AstraZeneca reactions came from the same batch of the shot. The particular batch had since been laboratory tested in Australia and by British health authorities.
“We believe it is safe to use. We are continuing to look at the individual cases of anaphylaxis, trying to pin whether it is related to the vaccine, whether it is something particular about the way the vaccine was administered, and whether that should add any other warnings or safeguards,” Professor Skerritt said.
“We certainly don’t believe there is any specific problem around either AstraZeneca or Pfizer COVID vaccines.”
Ms D’Ath also said the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were safe for the majority of the population, but there were clear warnings for people allergic to any ingredients of the doses.
Pregnant or breast-feeding women are warned to avoid the vaccines, she said.
“This is not new news in the sense of, we are seeing allergic reactions; we are not surprised we’re seeing allergic reactions, but we do want to let the public know,” Ms D’Ath said.
Elsewhere, Brisbane’s hospital, aged-care facilities and disability providers will emerge from lockdown on Friday after the state recorded no new cases of community virus transmission.
The lockdown began when a doctor tested positive on Friday after working at Princess Alexandra Hospital and visiting four venues in the city’s south on Thursday.
The woman was infected by a patient who also infected a person staying in a separate room at Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor quarantine facility.
Ms D’ath said about 330 of the doctor’s 428 close contacts had tested negative for the virus, while no other cases have been reported among PA hospital staff or hotel workers and guests.
She said the lack of new community transmission after almost seven days meant the lockdown could end on Friday.
“We are in a very good position going forward over the next couple of days that will hopefully see us be able to lift those restrictions,” she said.
Queensland had six new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, all from overseas and already in hotel quarantine.