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Why an infectious diseases expert is confident Australia’s vaccine rollout is still on track

Gareth Parker
Article image for Why an infectious diseases expert is confident Australia’s vaccine rollout is still on track

A leading infectious diseases expert says the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people under 50 shouldn’t deter older Australians from getting vaccinated.

Last night the Prime Minister declared the AstraZeneca vaccine would only be used in people 50 and over, and people under 50 will be offered the Pfizer jab instead.

Professor Peter Collignon from Australian National University said the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks for older Australians. 

“There is no reason you should hesitate or not get vaccinated,” he said.

“If you put this in perspective, if you are over the age of 80 and you get COVID, you have probably got a one in 10 chance of dying, compared to a one in a million chance of dying from a rare side effect of the vaccine.”

He said the policy change shouldn’t affect Australia’s rollout too much.

“I regard this as more of a speed hump, rather than a roadblock.

“Those people weren’t going to be lining up for another four or five months anyway, and by that time we will have a lot more data.

“We do have other vaccines on order, and enough to carry that portion of the population.

“I still think we will have the vast majority of people in Australia vaccinated by the end of the year.”

Professor Collignon said it will be a long time before life returns to normal, even after everyone in Australia is vaccinated.

“There is this expectation we will get the vaccine, and life will go back to normal,” he said.

“The vaccines stop you from dying and stop you from having serious disease very effectively, but they don’t stop everybody getting the disease.

“You can still get the virus, mild disease, and spread it to others.

“A lot of the things we have been doing, we are going to have to continue to do even after a lot of people get vaccinated, until we have the world vaccinated.”

Click play to hear the full interview. 

Gareth Parker
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