Australia's COVID-19 national immunisation program experienced a recent setback after a very small number of blood clots in people administered one vaccine but the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging patients to get vaccinated once they are eligible.
The federal government recently accepted advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to preference Pfizer's mRNA vaccine for people aged under 50. The advice was in response to a very small number of blood clots in people aged under 50 who were administered the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The RACGP said general practices are receiving calls from people eligible to receive the vaccine under phase 1b cancelling their appointments.
President Dr Karen Price urged patients to get vaccinated once they were eligible and to talk to their GP if they have concerns about being vaccinated.
“These are uncertain times and I understand why the latest changes to the vaccine rollout may be confusing for some people,” she said.
“But we must hold the line and keep faith in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“We won’t be able to protect our community unless people put their hand up to be vaccinated. So, when you are eligible to be vaccinated, I urge you to get vaccinated and discuss with your GP any concerns you have.
“Not only that, please spread the word to friends, family and colleagues that they should do the same. GPs will be doing their best to advise their patients and that will be crucial; however, for some people hearing the message about the importance of vaccination from a close family member or friend can make all the difference.
“Say to them that this is still a very safe vaccine and the risk of adverse effects is extremely small. Because we currently have no COVID-19 community transmission in Australia, we can afford to wait to vaccinate people under 50 with another vaccine.
“Unlike many other countries, we do have time on our hands and again I stress that this is a very safe vaccine with extremely rare risks of side effects. We need as many people as possible to get vaccinated.
With some patients cancelling their vaccine appointments, Dr Price also warned about anti-vaxxer messaging.
“I strongly suspect that anti-vaxxers will try and use the shift in vaccine rollout as a new opportunity to spread suspicion and fear on social media – that is what they do,” she said.
“We can’t let them get away with this because if people don’t get vaccinated and contract this virus, the consequences can be deadly.”