Health experts are calling for the Australian government to reconsider the age limit for the AstraZeneca jab, after a 52-year-old woman died from a brain clot last week in New South Wales. AstraZeneca is currently recommended for those over the age of 50.
“It may be time to consider now that we do offer the Pfizer vaccine for the 50 to 59-year-old age group,” said Associate Professor Margie Danchin, a clinician who researches vaccine risk perception, ABC News reports.
“I think in Australia now, with such low rates of Covid disease, the death of a previously well 52-year-old woman definitely asks us to reconsider the age threshold for the recommendation for AstraZeneca vaccine.”
The NSW woman is the second person to die from blood clots likely linked to the vaccine. A 48-year-old woman died from the rare blood clot in April. As of today, Australia has recorded 48 confirmed cases of people who have suffered from the rare blood-clotting disorder after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Last week, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly reassured Aussies that there’s nothing to worry about. “I will point out this remains an extremely rare event — to get these serious clots,” he told reporters at the time. “But when they happen, as we have seen in this case, it can have tragic circumstances.”
The AstraZeneca jab has had a pretty bad rap in recent months, due to blood clot fears. In April, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) confirmed that the vaccine may cause extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots. As a result, the Australian government said all people under 50 would be offered the Pfizer vaccine.
A few days earlier, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) found a possible link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and rare blood-clotting issues in adults, but concluded the risk of dying from Covid-19 is far greater than dying from complications caused by the vaccine.
Denmark was one of the first countries to suspend the vaccine in early March, after the death of a 60-year-old woman, with Nationals Senator Matt Canavan calling for Australia to follow Denmark’s lead.
On March 29, Canada suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 55. The pause came following a recommendation by the country’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), with its vice-chair, Dr Shelley Deeks, saying that given the risks there was “substantial uncertainty” about the benefit of providing the vaccine to those under 55.