The federal government has asked the nation’s medical and vaccine regulators to urgently look into findings from the European Medicines Agency of a possible link between AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine and rare blood-clotting issues.
In the wake of the EMA’s findings, the United Kingdom’s vaccine advisory board has said all people under 30 will now be offered alternative vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna.
“The government has asked [the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] and the [Therapeutic Goods Administration] to immediately consider and advise on the latest vaccination findings out of Europe and the UK,” a spokesperson said.
“Regulators have already been working with their international counterparts to consider the latest international evidence.”
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said ATAGI and the TGA met yesterday and would meet again today, with the hope that he would be able to provide advice to National Cabinet when it meets tomorrow.
“We certainly place safety above all else, and as we’ve done throughout the pandemic, the government will be guided by that health advice,” he said.
He acknowledged that the findings could affect confidence in the vaccine but stressed that while the health experts took the issue seriously, the clots were “extremely rare”.
“Like with any treatment, vaccine, medicine we have to look at the risk and benefit and we do know that the risk of vaccination against this very serious disease of COVID is a really important component of our control,” Professor Kelly said.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine is extremely effective and very safe for most people.”
In its statement, the UK government said it estimated the vaccine had saved the lives of around 6,000 people this year alone.
The Chief Medical Officer said the nation’s health experts would look closely at the data from overseas.
“They’re finding about 1 in 200,000 or 5 per million people getting this issue and about 1 in 4 of those are dying,” he said.
“So it’s a serious effect but extremely rare.
“At the moment there’s so few cases that it’s so hard to make conclusions.”
The federal government will amend the Sex Discrimination Act to include politicians and judges, who have previously been exempt from the laws.
The government is outlining its response to the Respect at Work report, announcing it will adopt the 55 recommendations either in full or in part.
Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said a series of legislative changes would be introduced into Parliament this year, aimed at strengthening protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.
She said as part of the changes, politicians and judges would be subject to the Sex Discrimination Act.
“We will be subject to the same law as anybody else which means we’ll be subject to the same consequences,” Senator Cash said.
“Somebody can bring a complaint against you to the commission, if it’s upheld it’s upheld. if it’s not, it’s not.”
The family hiked out with their baby and young children after being trapped by floodwaters for days.
James Archer says his wife is a true hero for helping save their young family when floodwaters surrounded their remote cabin, reports the ABC’s Emma Siossian
Mr Archer moved to the bush with his wife Lauren about five years ago. They left the bustle of Sydney and embraced a total tree change.
“We left the city behind and started a homestead in the rainforest,” Mr Archer said.
They built a cabin at Upper Lansdowne, north of Taree, on the New South Wales Mid North coast and became self-sufficient. They grew their own food and tended their own livestock.
They also started a family. The couple now has three young children all under the age of five.
In late March, however, when torrential rain and wild winds hit the region, their remote cabin was suddenly in danger.
“We started getting flash floods. The creeks around our cabins just rose up to huge rivers and we were completely locked off within an hour and stayed that way for three days,” Mr Archer said.
They bunkered down with their children — including a three-month old baby — and were left without power, phone signal or network coverage.
Bridges on the 4WD road that accessed their home were washed out.
“It was three days of anxiety and looking for ways to get out,” Mr Archer said.
On the fourth day, the young couple packed food and some belongings and set out on the trek to reach their neighbour’s home on the other side of Upper Lansdowne.
“We started getting landslides around the cabin … and that’s when I decided to make a move to get out of there,” Mr Archer said.
Carrying three-month-old Liam, with four-year-old Jack and two-year-old Kai on foot, the family waited for the water to go down and hiked across an old log bridge in a higher gully, that was only partially damaged.
“I felt like I was in a movie, my wife is the hero here, she was amazing,” Mr Archer said.
“My wife was great, she wanted to carry far too much equipment, but she’s really strong … and we got here and [are] safe.”
Ms Archer said they packed in a hurry and there was a lot to carry.
“I had bags packed with clothing and basically the feed for the baby and a backpack on my back,” she said.
Mr Archer said the walk wasn’t too far but was hilly and very muddy, and his children seemed to understand the seriousness of the situation.
“When there’s raging waters all around … I think they’ve never behaved so well,” he said.
“I think they could sense there was a bit of an emergency and the need to listen to Mummy and Daddy and they did really well.
“They were really tired afterwards but did great.”
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