Canberrans under 50 will still be able to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, but would need to fill out a consent form before they're administered the dose, the territory's Health Minister has said.
Rachel Stephen-Smith said consent forms had been updated in the wake of new advice from Australia's vaccine advisory group surrounding the AstraZeneca jab.
The group recommended last Thursday the AstraZeneca vaccine be limited to those over 50, due to a potential risk of a rare blood-clotting condition developing.
Those under 50 have been recommended they receive the Pfizer vaccine instead, with the move significantly hampering Australia's vaccine rollout.
Ms Stephen-Smith said despite the advice, those under 50 eligible to get the vaccine as part of phase 1b could still get the AstraZeneca if Pfizer was not as readily available.
"It's important to note [the recommendation] is not a complete ban on under 50s getting the AstraZeneca," Ms Stephen-Smith told ABC Radio Canberra on Monday.
"It's a question of having a conversation with your GP if you have an underlying health condition, and if you can't get access to the Pfizer vaccine, whether the benefit [of getting AstraZeneca] outweighs the risk."
It comes as the federal government abandoned its target to have vaccinated all eligible Australians by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said issues with the vaccine rollout had meant the 2021 target was not possible.
"While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved," Mr Morrison wrote on Facebook.
Australia-based company CSL was in the process of ramping up production of a locally made AstraZeneca vaccine, but the new advice has meant more doses of Pfizer will be required.
The Pfizer vaccine is only available from overseas.
Ms Stephen-Smith said despite the delay in the vaccine rollout, the federal government were being realistic about the situation.
"There's a lot of uncertainty at the moment, and it's important for people to remember that the approach Australia has taken is to be very cautious around the vaccine program in terms of health advice," she said.
"The primary goal is to maintain community confidence in the vaccine, and that was why we acted on the TGAS's and [vaccine advisory group's] advice in relation to the AstraZeneca vaccine."
Following the new advice handed down on Thursday night in relation to the AstraZeneca vaccine, Canberrans who had been invited to schedule a vaccine appointment had been urged to wait until Monday to call up and make a time.
Health officials scrambled on Friday to reschedule those set to get the AstraZeneca vaccine to get a Pfizer one instead.
However, Ms Stephen-Smith said those set to get the vaccine were able to book an appointment.
So far, more than 1 million doses of the vaccine have been administered to Australians as part of phases 1a and 1b or the rollout.
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