Canberra's general practitioners have been inundated with calls about the AstraZeneca vaccine in the wake of new advice surrounding the rare but serious side effect of blood clots.
Australian Medical Association ACT president Dr Antonio Di Dio said the bulk of the calls had still been about when people were eligible to get a COVID vaccine, and what the risk factors were.
But some GPs had fielded calls on Friday from people aged under 50 who wanted to cancel their appointments to get the jab.
Some GPs, too, had called their patients under 50 to cancel their vaccine appointments.
Instead, it was recommended they got the Pfizer vaccine.
Canberra's GPs expected to get further advice on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday evening, following urgent meetings between the Commonwealth government and experts.
Dr Di Dio said that, in the meantime, GPs were keeping themselves and their patients calm.
Dr Di Dio is the principal general practitioner at Yarralumla Surgery as well as the president of the Australian Medical Association's ACT branch.
"The absolute key for general practice is honesty, transparency, full communication, and the fact that GPs are working insanely hard," he said.
"We're doing about 300 flu shots today - that's a lot of patients - and usually, that's pretty busy, but it's twice as busy today because every single person getting a flu shot says, 'Oh, by the way, can I ask about the COVID [situation]', and we have to answer those questions."
Dr Di Dio on Friday said he'd been encouraging patients under 50 to keep an eye out for updated advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
He said Australia was in a lucky position in that it had the time and space to carefully consider advice and developments to do with COVID-19 vaccines.
"The way that we've been handling these little mini breakouts around Australia has been so fantastic," Dr Di Dio said.
"It's also not an emergency. There's no cases in Australia, there's no deaths in Australia.
"Let's take our time, take a deep breath, chill, and get it right the first time."
He said Australia could still achieve herd immunity "pretty impressively", regardless of whether everyone who wanted a COVID vaccine was given a jab by October, December, or even next February.
Dr Di Dio stressed that statistics were currently very strongly in favour of every Australian being vaccinated against COVID-19.
"When I prescribe the pill, I say, 'You've got a one in 1000 chance of getting a blood clot'," he said.
"When you get a COVID vaccine, you've got a one in 250,000 chance of getting a blood clot.
"It is unbelievably low compared to so many other things that we do.
"However, from the evidence that we've seen, it would appear to be that this very small number of blood clots after the AstraZeneca vaccine is in fact due to the vaccine and they are a very unusual and very different kind of clot."
Dr Di Dio said that over the coming days, Canberra's GPs would continue to listen to the advice from experts about the AstraZeneca vaccine, keep patients calm and communicate with them.
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