No new cases in Victoria as Pfizer decision disrupts vaccine rollout

Victoria recorded no new local cases of coronavirus for the 42nd day in a row after the Australian government announced it had accepted expert advice that Pfizer should now be the preferred vaccine for under 50s.

There were 18,463 test results returned on Thursday. The Health Department administered 6,057 vaccines on Thursday, bringing the total number of inoculations delivered by Victorian authorities to 137,329.

The new figures come as Australia’s medical experts decided, after a lengthy Thursday night meeting, that Pfizer will now be the preferred vaccine for under-50s because of a rare but serious blood clotting side effect linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Professor Allen Cheng received the Pfizer vaccine at The Alfred hospital in March.

Professor Cheng said health authorities did not mandate the 50-year-old threshold and were careful to make clear it was a choice so patients can still exercise autonomy over the vaccine.

“If a younger person said that they were happy to take a one in 200,000 risk of clotting for the benefit of getting protected from COVID earlier, then as long as this was an informed decision, we should respect that choice,” he said.

Professor Cheng said that even though he’s not privy to vaccine acquisition discussions that happen on a federal level, there was no question this decision would slow the rollout down.

“There’s no question that this decision will slow things down – having onshore capacity to produce vaccine is very valuable,” he said.

“So over the next few days, Commonwealth and state governments will be working out how the program will look in the coming weeks and months. But because we’re thankfully not dealing with ongoing COVID outbreaks, we can make this choice to take a safer path.”

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy on Friday advocated that anyone over 50 who was given the opportunity to have the vaccine should.

“I still think it is a wonderful vaccine, it’s a really good vaccine,” Professor Murphy told 3AW, “for those over 50, they should have no hesitation about it.“

“This complication is vanishingly rare and the protection that’s offered is fantastic.“

On Thursday the health department said fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 had been detected in wastewater samples taken from a sewer catchment in Melbourne’s southeast.

People who live in or have visited Clayton, Clayton South, Dingley Village, Glen Waverley, Mount Waverley, Mulgrave, Notting Hill, Springvale, Springvale South and Wheelers Hill with even mild COVID-19 symptoms are bring urged to get tested.

More to come

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