Victoria changes AstraZeneca advice
Victoria has changed its advice for those wanting the AstraZeneca jab, with the waiting time between doses slashed in half.
The interval between doses at state-run hubs will be reduced from 12 weeks to six, in line with the Pfizer.
The state is pushing to reach its 70 to 80 per cent vaccination target by September 23, as political pressure mounts to ease lockdown restrictions.
The revised wait times will be effective immediately.
“This change and the additional supply of the Pfizer vaccine from the Commonwealth when it arrives from Victoria will help us to reach our vaccination targets faster,” Department of Health official Ben Cowie said on Thursday.
The decision was made in the wake of increased community risk, as a second dose increases protection from mild illness from 30 per cent to 70 per cent, and protection from serious illness to about 90 per cent.
Although Pfizer bookings are limited right now, there are still more than 52,000 available AstraZeneca appointments in the next two weeks.
Professor Cowie said original clinical trials showed there was a higher degree of protection with 12 week spacing, compared to people who had less than six weeks between jabs.
“Now, in line with the ATAGI guidance, because we have community transmission in Melbourne, because the risk of infection is increasing, two doses are critically important for getting those high levels of protection,” he said.
“They will really … (aid) the response to community transmission, put a downward pressure on cases and contribute to protecting our health system as we look after all Victorians.
“It really is important that we get that second dose in.”
It comes as Victoria recorded 176 new cases on Thursday, with infections showing no sign of diminishing.
The case numbers are the highest since August 22 last year when there were 202 cases, and the highest recorded in Victoria’s current outbreak of COVID-19.
Eighty-three of the new cases are linked to current outbreaks, with the acquisition source for the remaining 93 cases under investigation.
Authorities are now focusing on driving up vaccination efforts, with the hope of zero Delta cases in the state now proving impossible.
Professor Cowie said the new AstraZeneca changes would help the state to reach its vaccination targets faster, leading to the state opening up as soon as possible.
“The current outbreak in Victoria, and the ongoing situation in NSW, is just further evidence of why we need to protect as many Victorians as quickly as we can,” he said.
“We certainly know that the balance is in favour of shortening the duration at the moment to get the highest levels of protection against the Delta variant right now. We know that coming into the end of this year, and into next year, the considerations will be there around booster doses, but for now, the importance is getting double doses into people.”
Originally published as Victoria changes AstraZeneca advice
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