Australia hands over 50K AstraZeneca doses to Fiji

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes reiterated the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine and brushed aside assertions that Fiji and other Pacific Island countries have been used as dumping ground for unused batches whilst handing over 50,000 doses to Fiji’s Minister for Health Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete.

“The biggest assurance I can give is that I, my family and all of my staff had AstraZeneca vaccine,” Feakes said in a press conference in Suva today.

This 50,000 brings the total number of Australia-manufactured COVID-19 vaccines in-country, to 250,000 – a quarter of the 1 million Australia has committed to Fiji.

Regarding the advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) which changed its stance recommending AstraZeneca as the preferred vaccine for those aged above 60 years, Feakes says the advice is “Australia-specific”.

“It says specifically that in the absence of a widespread outbreak in Australia, people who are under the age of 60 should think about getting an alternative vaccine. The risk for a first vaccine is tiny, the risk for a second vaccine is even tinier, and so the advice for Australians as is, if you’ve had a first vaccine from AstraZeneca, you should go ahead with confidence and have a second..

“The risk of blood clotting incident from taking AstraZeneca vaccine is lower than the risk of a blood clot from birth control tablets or panadol, so I think that gives you some idea of the level of risk that we’re talking about.”

The remaining 750,000 AstraZeneca doses will be deployed to Fiji in batches as per a timeline to be confirmed,

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