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- Australia has secured a further 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, after the Federal Government recommended those under 50 receive alternatives to the AstraZeneca jab.
- The extra Pfizer doses are set to arrive in the final quarter of 2021, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday.
- The news comes after Australian medical authorities noted a potential link between the AstraZeneca jab and very rare instances of blood clotting.
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Australia has secured the rights to a further 20 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced, after national health authorities recommended those under 50 receive alternatives to the AstraZeneca jab.
Speaking in Canberra Friday afternoon, Morrison said Australia's Pfizer stockpile will total 40 million doses - enough to immunise 20 million Australians - with the extra tranche to be imported in the final quarter of 2021.
"We will obviously be doing everything we can to seek to move that forward where we can," Morrison said, "but that is very welcome news."
News of the enlarged Pfizer allowance comes after the the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended Australians under 50 receive alternatives to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Their findings were based on reports from the European Medicines Agency, which found potential links between the AstraZeneca jab and very rare incidences of blood clotting.
Those reports noted examples of blood clotting in four to six out of every million AstraZeneca vaccine recipients.
Health authorities still recommend the AstraZeneca jab for those over 50 due to the severe health risks of COVID-19 itself, but the potentially heightened risk of blood clotting in younger Australians means the Pfizer vaccine is now preferred for those demographics.
Morrison acknowledged the recommendation will require a "recalibration" of Australia's vaccination timeline, given the fact millions of Australians under 50 were set to receive one of the 53.8 million AstraZeneca doses contracted by the Federal Government.
But "we're not in a position at the moment to reconfirm a timetable," Morrison said.
The Prime Minister also reiterated that many Australians included in the ongoing Phases 1A and 1B of the rollout are over 50 - meaning AstraZeneca remains a preferred vaccine option.
"The AstraZeneca vaccine remains a critical component of Australia's vaccination program," Morrison said.
"It is particularly essential in those 1A and 1B components of the program, which ensures that we are protecting the most vulnerable in the community in a safe way."
Australia has also secured the rights to 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, which is yet to receive TGA approval.