CENTRAL Victorians under 60 should weigh up the relative risks of their situation when considering booking an AstraZeneca shot, the director of a Bendigo vaccination clinic says.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced late on Monday an "indemnity scheme" to allow GPs to administer AstraZeneca vaccine to Australians under 60 years of age with informed consent.
But Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Tuesday that medical advice had not changed, and Pfizer was the preferred vaccine for under 60s.
The move comes as several states fight outbreaks.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been recommended only for those over 60 - previously over 50 - due to risk of a rare blood clotting disorder.
Spring Gully Respiratory Clinic director Ewa Piejko said people should consider both their risk of exposure to COVID-19, and their risk of complications from the disease, when making a decision.
She said those with higher risk of exposure, or higher risk from COVID, would both benefit more from vaccination earlier.
Dr Peijko said it was important people present for vaccination, as there was plenty of AstraZeneca available.
She said more vaccination would allow more freedom in the community, and reduce the risk of lockdowns.
Dr Peijko said while Pfizer was the preferred vaccine for people under 60, it was never the only option.
She said general practitioners had always been able to administer AstraZeneca to people under 50 or 60, with informed consent.
Dr Piejko said people's perception of risk had changed, as had the degree of risk the government considered acceptable.
She said the risk of a clot hadn't changed, but the health system had gotten better at identifying who was at risk, and managing that risk.
"Complications happen to all treatment and medications. You're always weighing up the risk versus the benefit of that, no matter what you do. It's what you're willing to accept as a risk," Dr Piejko said.
"The more COVID we've got around, the more the benefit goes in favour of having the vaccine. If there's no COVID around, if there's no chance you're going to get COVID."
Reactions have been mixed to the federal move. The Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid has said the AMA still recommended people followed advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group.
This advice remains that the Pfizer vaccine is preferred for those aged 16 to 60 years, previously 16 to 60 years.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the Health Department had contacted to commonwealth for advice about whether eligibility requirements were formally changing.
The federal change has been welcomed, with qualifications, by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
The RACGP has called on the federal government to urgently clarify details about the changes.
The RACGP said the news was welcome, but general practitioners needed notice so they could provide their patients with up-to-date information.
The Department of Health has been approached for comment.
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