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Pfizer for all: Over-60s eligible nationwide from October


Paul Hayes


30/09/2021 6:07:58 PM

Increasing supply means all Australians 12 and older will soon have access to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

Vials of Pfizer's COVID vaccine.
Pfizer supplies are expected to increase substantially from October. (Image: AAP)

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced expanded eligibility for mRNA vaccines, with people across Australia able to book appointments regardless of age.
 
The expanded eligibility follows a call from RACGP President Dr Karen Price that every approved COVID vaccine in Australia should be available to older cohorts in each state and territory.
 
‘That would be really smart,’ she told Nine Newspapers, while emphasising that Pfizer bookings for over-60s should not be prioritised over other vulnerable groups. ‘What I hope it means is there’s a turning of the tide in terms of supply.’
 
Previously, the vast majority of Australians aged 60 and older were only able to access AstraZeneca vaccines, as limited Pfizer supplies were reserved for younger people due to the rare but slightly higher risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia syndrome (TTS) associated with this cohort.
 
As of 30 September, 94.6% of Australians aged over 70 have received at least one dose, most of whom received AstraZeneca.
 
Recent weeks have seen other states and territories unilaterally expand mRNA eligibility criteria, but Victoria and NSW had resisted until they were given certainty over future supplies of the vaccines.
 
The news followed a Victorian Government announcement that the recommended Pfizer interval will be reduced from six to three weeks from 4 October, in an effort to expedite the percentage of people who have been fully vaccinated.
 
The announcement came as the state marked a single day record of 1438 COVID cases, a jump of almost 500 compared to the previous day.
 
While the State Government had previously expressed concern over the certainty of Pfizer supply in October, Premier Daniel Andrews said he is confident Victoria will have enough vaccine to support the change.
 
This means that anyone who has received their first dose of Pfizer can choose to bring forward their second dose. Changes in the vaccine booking system will be made overnight on 3 October, and on 4 October people will be able to make a second dose booking from three weeks after they had their first dose.
 
‘What that means is over the next few weeks, we will be able to have more and more people get not just one dose, but in fact, complete the vaccination process with two doses,’ Premier Andrews said.
 
‘That will help us to bring forward or at least help us to deliver, and hopefully bring forward our 70% double-dose target which is still on or about the 26th of October.’
 
Victoria had previously announced a reduced dosing interval for AstraZeneca – from 12 weeks to six – in early September.
 
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