Why you should get COVID-19 jab despite reports of clotting
Authorities have reassured Queenslanders the benefits of receiving the coronavirus vaccine outweigh the risks after a 66-year-old Townsville man became the 11th person to develop blood clots.
The man, who has a chronic illness, got the AstraZeneca coronavirus jab spent days fighting for his life in intensive care after developing rare blood clots in his stomach.
Doctors fear the latest cases of rare blood clots could increase vaccine hesitancy in the community - despite the benefits of getting the jab still outweighing the risks.
The Townsville man was one of five reported cases of rare blood clots - known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) - directly linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in the last week.
Nationally, this brings the total number of cases to 11, out of 1.4m AstraZeneca jabs administered so far.
Three other possible cases of vaccine-linked rare blood clots remain under investigation.
Therapeutic Goods Administration head Professor John Skerritt stressed that the frequency of TTS cases - at 7.8 cases per 1m doses - was in line with what's being reported across the world.
"[The adverse events] are pretty much along the trajectory we expect," Prof Skerritt said.
The man, like the four other recent cases of TTS linked to the vaccine, had quite serious and significant underlying health conditions.
It's understood he received his AstraZeneca jab on March 30 and later developed abdominal pains.
It is unknown when he was first admitted to Townsville Hospital but it's understood he had been there for some time and was only moved out of intensive care, in a stable condition, on Thursday.
Royal Australian College of GP vice president Dr Bruce Willett, who is Queensland-based, said the latest "very high-profile" cases could further increase vaccine hesitancy in the community despite severe jab side effects being extraordinarily rare.
"We need to get everyone vaccinated to prevent lockdowns … to prevent those new strains that continue to arrive," he said.
"If people wait, eventually COVID-19 will get here, as we've seen in Papua New Guinea and India."
All five cases of TTS reported by the TGA on Thursday were people aged above 50, with two cases in Victoria in a 74-year-old man and 51-year-old woman, case in Tasmania of a 70-year-old man, and a 64-year-old woman in WA.
Prof Skerritt said this was obviously due to the fact that the AstraZeneca vaccine was being given almost exclusively to people aged 50 and older.
"We're not at all surprised with the results we're seeing," he said.
No Australians over 50 have died from blood clots associated with the vaccine.
As of Wednesday 505,559 vaccine doses had been administered in Queensland, including 60,777 in aged care.
Nationally, 2.4 million doses have been administered.
Originally published as Why you should get COVID-19 jab despite reports of clotting