PDL guidance on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

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The PDL Professional Officers have received several calls relating to the administration of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine in patients below 60 years of age.

Whilst the ATAGI advice regarding age ranges for AZ vaccine has not changed, recent Commonwealth government announcements have reiterated that healthcare practitioners, including pharmacists, can, with informed consent, administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to patients under the age of 60 years in certain circumstances.

PDL has previously confirmed to all members that the PDL Master Policy provides cover for COVID-19 vaccination when you take reasonable steps to understand and comply with the obligations that are placed on you by government approved protocols. This includes, but is not limited to, government training, standards, directives, clinical guidelines and recommendations for the administration of vaccine which are applicable at the time of providing the vaccine.

Following the latest announcements, PDL can provide the following information for members handling requests for AZ vaccines in patients under 60 years of age. Pharmacists should satisfy themselves of the following;

  • The Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine is not available to the patient
  • The benefits to the patient are likely to outweigh the risks
  • The patient gives informed consent to the vaccination knowing the risks
  • State legislation permits pharmacist vaccination in this age range
    • For example, the NSW Vaccination Standard does not allow for pharmacist administration of COVID-19 vaccines in patients less than 60 years

ATAGI guidance also indicates that pharmacists can administer the second dose of the AZ vaccine if the patient had no reactions to the first dose.

As long as government approved protocols continue to be complied with, then cover under the PDL Master Policy will respond as originally advised.

As the information on this issue is often changing, PDL reminds vaccinators to use the most up to date guidance documents for consumers, primary care and hospitals when discussing any aspect of COVID-19 vaccination. Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring their understanding of the guidelines is current.

An example of a recently updated guidance document is the following reference to benefit versus risk:
Weighing up the potential benefits against risk of harm from covid-19 vaccine -AstraZeneca 29.6.21

Another resource is the ATAGI statement on recent safety concerns

Please note that this advice is based on the information current as of 7th July 2021. Please ensure that this information is personally validated at the time of reading.

For immediate advice and incident support, call PDL on 1300 854 838 to speak with one of our Professional Officers. We are here to support our pharmacist members 24/7, Australia-wide.