A doctor has revealed there are still hundreds rejecting the AstraZeneca vaccine in one of Sydney’s biggest Covid-19 hot spots despite the fact highly rare blood clotting disorders linked to the jab are becoming increasingly easier to treat.
Dr Kean-Seng Lim runs a medical centre in Mount Druitt, in the city’s west, and says the recent news of two more deaths related to the shot have increased anxiety over the ‘very effective’ vaccination.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Thursday said a 44-year-old man from Tasmania and a 48-year-old woman from Victoria had died after taking their first dose of the vaccine.
In total there have been six deaths out of the 6.1million doses of the AstraZeneca jab administered in Australia since the Covid-19 vaccine rollout began, according to the TGA.
Average Australians are more likely to die from catching Covid-19 than from a blood clot after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine, data has revealed.
Australians are more likely to die from catching Covid-19 than from a blood clot after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine, data has revealed but many are still holding out for a Pfizer vaccine (pictured woman receives Pfizer vaccine in Sydney)
Dr Kean-Seng Lim runs a medical centre in Mount Druitt, in the city’s west, and says the recent news of two more deaths related to the shot have increased anxiety over the ‘very effective’ vaccination
‘Unfortunately no matter what happens there are always going to be complications from everything,’ Dr Lim told A Current Affair.
‘What is the most important thing to say is that we are learning fairly quickly and we also have to assess the risks and the benefits of everything, which we are doing.’
Dr Lim said when the AstraZeneca vaccine was first offered there was a great response at his medical clinic but some residents aged 60 and over are now waiting to get the Pfizer shot.
He said 600 out of his 3,600 patients were eligible for AstraZeneca but a third of these are ‘showing anxiety’ about getting the jab.
The doctor says everyday he is detailing the risks to those who do not receive the vaccine compared to the risk of catching the highly contagious Delta strain of the virus.
‘I would say that half a dozen times a day I am having to have discussions with patients about that exact problem,’ he said.
‘Which is we have to see what is the probability of having the adverse reaction to a vaccine versus what is the probability of catching coronavirus and of course what is the probability of death or hospitalisation from the illness.
‘So it is a thing that has to be weighed up by every individual and ultimately it is a personal choice.’
He noted that despite there being an extremely low chance of those who received the vaccine having health complications, more were turning towards Pfizer.
‘At this point in time AstraZeneca does seem to have gotten a bit of a reputation as a second-rate vaccine,’ he said
So far, only two in 100,000 people who have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia have developed TTS (pictured queues at Sydney vaccination hub)
‘Whereas we know in reality it is a very effective vaccine and it really works well.
‘However, due to the negative publicity, due to the various statements by health groups, we have a situation where more patients are willing to have the Pfizer vaccine than AstraZeneca and yes, if we could get more Pfizer, we could give them out as fast as they come in.’
The cause in both the deaths announced on Thursday was reported as probable thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) – a rare but serious blood clotting condition involving low platelet counts.
TTS is easily diagnosed, very treatable and far less deadly than initially thought.
What are the chances of getting a blood clot?
Number of people who get blood clots after AstraZeneca per 100,000 people:
18-29 years: 1.9
30-39 years: 1.6
40-49 years: 5.0
50-59 years: 2.7
60-69 years: 1.4
70-79 years: 1.8
80+ years: 1.9
Overall: 2.3 (0.0023%)
Only three per cent of people who get the clots die
Alfred Health Head of Thrombosis and Haemostas Professor Huyen Tran said last month experts have developed a much stronger understanding of the syndrome.
‘It’s always the case that new conditions have a higher mortality rates at first, but the true mortality rate ends up being much lower,’ Professor Tran said.
‘We understand this condition has a very different mechanism to all other forms of blood clots. Not understanding this difference in the past may have led to confusion and hesitancy to get vaccinated.
‘We’re now in an extremely strong position to recognise it, diagnose it and most importantly, treat it well.’
So far, only two in 100,000 people who have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia have developed TTS.
And of those who developed the condition, just six out of six million who had the jab have died.
The contraceptive pill causes clots for between 5 and 12 women per 10,000, according to the Department of Health, but these warnings are largely ignored.
The risk of dying from a blood clot related to the vaccine is one in a million but the risk of being killed in a pedestrian accident is eight in a million and the chance of dying in a car crash is 28 in a million.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 mortality rate in Australia is 3.9 per cent, or 39,000 in a million.
Pfizer remains the recommended Covid-19 vaccine for Australians under 60 due to the extremely rare AstraZeneca-related blood clotting condition being slightly more prevalent in younger people.
But Australian adults under 60 can still access the AstraZeneca shot if they discuss the decision with their GP and give informed consent.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been ramping up pressure on the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to rethink that advice – arguing the outbreaks in NSW, Victoria and South Australia change the equation.
Just under 15 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated.
Government experts did modelling (above) to show the risk of getting a blood clot from the Astrazeneca vaccine for each age group, compared with the benefits of getting the jab