Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has urged people not to “jump to conclusions” about the death of a 48-year-old woman who developed blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Key points:

  • Paul Kelly confirmed the woman received the AstraZeneca vaccine
  • A special group of health experts are looking into her death
  • The risk of developing the clotting disorder is extremely rare

Last night federal health officials revealed they were investigating the death of the diabetic woman in New South Wales.
Professor Kelly said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had convened a special expert group to look at the information they had on the woman’s death earlier this week.
Preliminary tests showed no conclusive link to the vaccine.
“People should be cautious about jumping to conclusions,” he said.
“We do have a very well thought through and very long-standing approach to such matters.
“Please, if you’re in 1a or 1b group … when you have the chance to get your vaccine, please go.”
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The Chief Medical Officer reiterated that the blood clots associated with the vaccine were extremely rare, and the benefits of protection against COVID-19 far outweighed the risk.
“We are in a very unusual situation here in Australia at the moment, with no community transmission and very few cases right throughout this year,” he said.
“That will not continue.
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“We will at some point in the future, we do not know when, but we will have cases here in Australia.
“The chances of being infected will rise, so being vaccinated is a protection not only for yourself, but also for the people you care for.”
He said a preliminary study in the United States showed the rare clots were also caused by the virus, but at a much higher rate.
“People who had COVID infection, they were nine times more likely to get this [rare clotting condition], compared to the rates we now know from the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said.
Wait for the facts, PM says
Last week the government changed its vaccine advice, saying the AstraZeneca jab, previously the mainstay of Australia’s vaccination plans, was no longer recommended for the under-50s because of the risk of blood clots.
It said the Pfizer vaccine should be used for that age group instead, and announced that it had secured an extra 20 million doses of Pfizer, which are due to arrive in the country in the last quarter of the year.
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Professor Kelly said he did not know if the woman had been given the vaccine after the change in advice, but that she became unwell “three or four” days after receiving it.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison scrapped the government’s vaccination targets after making the decision to limit the use of the AstraZeneca product.
He today echoed Professor Kelly, saying it would be “unhelpful” to jump to conclusions about what caused the woman’s death.
“We just wait for the facts and the advice,” Mr Morrison said.
So far 1.4 million vaccine doses have been administered nationally.
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