France to offer alternative to AstraZeneca second jab for those under 55

The change of recommendation affects 532,000 under 55s who took the shot until France suspended its use in the age group last month

The change of recommendation affects 532,000 under 55s who took the shot until France suspended its use in the age group last month

Speaking in Canberra Thursday night, Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said the Pfizer vaccine is now preferred for Australians under 50 who have not already received their first dose of the AstraZeneca jab.

The additions bring the country's Pfizer vaccine total to 40 million doses in 2021.

The HAS also called for real-world studies to assess the immune response triggered by the mixed vaccination scheme.

Australia and the Philippines limited use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, while the African Union dropped plans to buy the shot, dealing further blows to the company's hopes to deliver a vaccine for the world.

The change of recommendation affects 532,000 under 55s who took the shot until France suspended its use in the age group last month, said Dominique Le Guludec, the head of French health authority HAS.

It said its decision was based on an immunization strategy known as heterologous prime-boost, in which separate doses of different effective vaccines are used to confer protection.

They include Health Minister Olivier Véran, a neurologist aged 41, who was given the AstraZeneca vaccine live on television on February 8.

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Health Minister Greg Hunt said phases 1A, 1B and even 2A will be "largely unchanged" by updated advice surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged under 50.

"Therefore, if you have received a first injection and are under 55 years old, you will be offered another vaccine 12 weeks after the first injection".

The French decision came after European drug regulators said on Wednesday there was a possible link between AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot and a very small number of cases of rare blood clots.

But the potentially increased risk of rare blood clotting behaviours in younger Australians means the Pfizer vaccine is now preferred for those demographics.

Germany was the first country in Europe to recommend giving people who had received AstraZeneca vaccines as the first dose a mRNA vaccine booster.

Hong Kong said on Friday it would delay shipments of the AstraZeneca's vaccine this year.

The WHO now recommends the same product be used for both doses but has said further research should be carried out on the interchangeability of vaccines in so-called "mix and match" strategies.

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