A 64-year-old woman from WA is among five more people to have developed blood clots after having the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, it was revealed.
Australia’s medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), revealed today that the latest cases of thrombosis are “likely to be linked” to the jab.
The other cases were in a 74-year-old man and 51-year-old woman from Victoria, a 66-year-old man from Queensland and a 70-year-old man from Tasmania.
A WA Health spokesman said the woman, from regional WA, was vaccinated on April 8 and went to a Perth hospital after suffering a small stroke on April 24.
“The potential case was reported on the day of admission and details forwarded to the TGA,” he said.
“The woman was treated and discharged from hospital and is expected to do well.”
The latest cases bring the total number of Australian reports of blood clots and low blood platelets assessed as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) following the AstraZeneca vaccine to 11.
The TGA said it was “encouraging” that of the five people who developed blood clots following vaccination in the previous week, four have now been discharged from hospital.
It comes after 48-year-old NSW Genene Norris died last month from a blood clot after having the AstraZeneca vaccine. Her death sparked mass cancellations of bookings for the jab.
Australians aged over 50 can currently only get the AstraZeneca vaccine, and more than 1.4 million doses have been given nationwide to date.
The Federal Government decided to restrict access to the Pfizer jab — the other vaccine currently available in Australia — to the under 50s because of the rate of blood clots in younger people.
Archie Clements, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Curtin University, said that despite these “rare but severe reactions”, AstraZenenca was safe for the vast majority of people.
“To protect our communities, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable, people should take up the offer to be vaccinated,” he said.
“Remember, being vaccinated is not just about protecting your own health, but the health of your loved ones and others in your community and provides the only path out of the current global public health crisis.”
But Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor of medicine and public health at Flinders University said the latest cases showed blood clots were a potential issue for older people, not just those under 50, who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Clearly more data is needed on the exact statistics and risks of this condition – if about 500,000 Australians have received the vaccine in the last few weeks this would indicate a rate as high as 1:100,000 in elderly recipients,” the research director at Vaxine Pty Ltd, which is developing its own COVID-19 vaccine, said.
“But this is the rate previously quoted for those under 50, suggesting that there may in fact be no difference in risk according to age.”
Professor Petrovsky said it raised the question of whether it might be advisable to wait for better vaccines. .
“The last thing we want to see is policies backfiring by increasing vaccine hesitancy in the community, so the government is going to have to tread very carefully on how it handles such issues,” he said.