Queensland’s Premier was moving to reassure people the COVID vaccine was safe on Thursday, after her Health Minister issued a warning for people with a history of allergic reactions to hold off on getting the jab.
At a media conference on Wednesday, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath, along with Queensland Health Director-General John Wakefield, said there were concerns following four people having allergic reactions to the jab in recent days.
Ms D’Ath said while the vaccine was considered safe, anyone who had a history of anaphylactic reactions to bee stings or food should consult their GP before having the jab.
The Queensland government received updated advice from the Therapeutic Goods Administration later on Wednesday correcting the advice, saying there was no specific risk to people with a history of allergic reactions.
Ms D’Ath made no further public statement on Wednesday to correct the record, and a Queensland Health spokeswoman confirmed the department did not publicly issue any correction, although it did offer the updated information to some media outlets that inquired.
Asked on Thursday whether that was an acceptable series of events, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk defended Ms D’Ath, saying she had provided the most up-to-date information to hand.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said anyone who had a history of anaphylactic reactions to bee stings or food should consult their GP, but that advice was superseded the same day.Credit:Glenn Hunt/ Getty Images
“The TGA came out and gave definitive advice yesterday, they’re the proper people to do that,” she said.
“Early [on Wednesday morning] there were some initial concerns, [Ms D’ath] was doing an early-morning press conference and I back what she said.”
After holding press conferences on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to give updates about the virus and the vaccine rollout, Ms D’Ath did not front the media on Thursday.
Ms Palaszczuk said the updated advice on Wednesday had been provided by the TGA directly to Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, who then updated the government.
“There is no reason for alarm … anyone with severe allergies should just talk to their GPs. The vaccination program is going full steam ahead,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
In a statement, Queensland Health said the safety of Queenslanders during the vaccine rollout was its top priority.
“Eligible people with a history of severe allergic reactions can be vaccinated but should be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving the AZ [AstraZeneca] vaccine,” the statement said.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be administered as per the TGA and ATAGI guidelines.”
The head of the TGA, Professor John Skerritt, clarified late on Wednesday that people with a history of anaphylaxis were still able to get the vaccine.
“If you’re one of these people who have a known history of reaction to drugs or vaccines, talk about it with your vaccinator, give them a heads-up, and stay under monitoring for 30 minutes after the vaccination,” he said.
“But there shouldn’t be general concern among the broader community, the overwhelming majority of us who do not have these allergic reactions, there should be no concern.”
The four cases of anaphylaxis were recorded on Monday and Tuesday, one at Bundaberg, one at Toowoomba and two at Ipswich.
All the people had reaction symptoms within 30 minutes and were treated with adrenalin. They have all since been discharged and are well.
-with Rachel Clun
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