The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia would be restricted for certain age groups if experts recommend it, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.
Australia's expert vaccine panel is meeting on Thursday to discuss the safety of the vaccine amid concerns about links to blood clotting.
The development comes after the UK medical regulator on Wednesday advised against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 18-30, after reports of rare cases of blood clots.
Asked if Australia would follow the UK's lead, Mr Hunt said he would not pre-empt the panel's recommendations.
But he said the government would follow its advice.
"They should make their decisions based on their best judgement of the balance of safety for Australians and that they should do so fearlessly.
"We are blessed to have what I believe is arguably the world's finest regulatory and safety advisory processes and institutions in Australia and we will be following their advice.
"If they provide age restrictions or other variations, we'll do it. We'll adopt it," he said.
The panel's advice will be presented to Mr Morrison and state and territory leaders at Friday's national cabinet meeting.
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had not been advised of any need to restrict the country's vaccine rollout, but acknowledged that could change after the expert panel emerged from Thursday's meeting.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly reiterated the vaccine was "very effective and safe for most people", noting that instances of blood clotting had only been reported in four in one million cases.
Australia's expert vaccines panel - known as the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation or "ATAGI" - has been investigating the case of a 44-year-old man who was admitted to hospital in Melbourne with serious thrombosis and a low platelet count after he received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Authorities believed it was "likely" the clots were caused by the vaccine, but had yet to make a definitive call as of Saturday.
Speaking on ABC News Breakfast on Thursday morning, Prof Kelly said the expert panel would consider the the new UK recommendation, as well as the European Union regulator's advice on warnings for certain age groups at the meeting. The panel also met on Wednesday, he said.
- The 10-year drop in ACT roadside breath tests
- Study shows High Court justices favour their appointing PM
- Ill man can be held for up to six years over 'unprovoked' stabbing
- Five things to do in Canberra this weekend
- ACT govt to demolish, rebuild $2.6m public housing complex built in 2012
- ACT public servants to come under federal sex harassment changes
Prof Kelly said while local authorities had been aware of the issue for a number of weeks, the link between the vaccine and the "extremely rare" blood clot cases had become stronger in the past few days.
"There is a couple of things that we need to realise," he said.
"The vaccine is extremely effective and very safe for most people. There is this extremely rare event which appears to be associated with that particular vaccine in some people - 4 [cases] per million."
"The benefit of course is that vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID illness."
Asked on Thursday morning if the overseas developments could alter Australia's vaccine rollout, Mr Morrison said "there's no advice to suggest there would be any change", before noting that was subject to the outcome's of the expert panel's meeting.
Mr Morrison pointed out that the UK regulator's recommendation applies only to people under 30 - a cohort not yet eligible to receive the vaccine in Australia.
"My message to premiers and chief ministers this morning, is the same message to Australians - we've got the best people in the world looking at these issues to give us the medical expert advice.
"Our government has always approached this pandemic and all health issues to be led by medical expert evidence and advice and we'll be taking that today and the decisions will follow from that."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: