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States defy Morrison Govt over changed vaccine advice

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The federal government is under fresh pressure over its vaccine rollout after state leaders warned against younger people taking the AstraZeneca shot.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has highlighted a path for any adult to receive the jab after talking to their GP about the risks of extremely rare blood clots.

But state premiers and chief health officers are warning against ignoring advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

It is not recommended for people under 60 to receive AstraZeneca, with Pfizer the preferred vaccine for that age group.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said the federal-state spilt caused confusion.

“Unfortunately the prime minister’s thrown a little bit of a hand grenade into our vaccine program,” he told Sky News.

The federal government has provided doctors with legal protection to vaccinate adults of all ages, sparking a rush of younger people keen to have AstraZeneca.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she did not want people under 40 to receive the jab.

“I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got COVID probably wouldn’t die,” Young said.

Victorian Health Minster Martin Foley said the health department had received confirmation of a change in Commonwealth policy to expand the vaccine rollout.

“The last thing we need is confusion around vaccines. What we need is certainty and consistency and confidence in the vaccination program,” he said.

WA Premier Mark McGowan also wants people in his state to follow ATAGI’s medical advice.

“That is the advice we have and that is the national advice from the immunisation experts,” he said.

“Clearly, the Commonwealth has taken a different approach.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there was no disagreement on the medical advice despite states discouraging under-40s from taking AstraZeneca.

The dispute over vaccines comes as more than 12 million Australians across four different states are in lockdown due to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

NSW recorded 22 new local cases on Wednesday with Sydney and major regional centres remaining in lockdown.

There were three new cases in Queensland where the southeast of the state, Townsville and two nearby islands are also locked down.

WA recorded one new infection on the first day of Perth and the Peel region’s four-day lockdown.

-with AAP

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