Read this joint statement from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Thrombosis and Haemostasis society of Australia and New Zealand (THANZ) on Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) and the use of the COVID-19 Vaccine from AstraZeneca.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand (THANZ) are closely monitoring local and international data on the very rare and newly identified condition associated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) or vaccine induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).
This joint statement provides updated information about TTS and reinforces ATAGI’s previous advice regarding the use of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
TTS is different from other blood clotting conditions and is triggered by the immune system’s response to the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. It results in both thrombosis and low platelet levels. In the majority of cases, pathological antibodies against platelet factor 4 (PF4), a protein released from platelets, are detected. Studies are ongoing to better understand the exact mechanism of TTS. TTS has been reported in patients who have received the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca and the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine (the latter is not used in Australia).
TTS is a rare condition with a different mechanism to most other causes of thrombosis and/or thrombocytopenia. Among case reports, there are no known markers for increased risk for TTS.
Based upon this ATAGI and THANZ says that the following groups of people can receive COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca:
TTS can now be treated very effectively. THANZ have developed guidance on identification and treatment of TTS.
As part of informed consent for each dose, people who are considering being vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca should be aware that TTS is a very rare potential complication. They should be advised of the possible symptoms of TTS and when to seek medical advice.
Comirnaty (Pfizer), the alternative COVID-19 vaccine available in Australia, is the preferred vaccine brand for:
Comirnaty (Pfizer) is recommended for people 16 years and above with:
UK data suggest that the risk of TTS is much lower with a second dose, with 15 cases reported to date out of 9.0 million second doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca given. This translates into an estimated rate of 1.7 case per million doses.
ATAGI reinforces that people of any age who have had their first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse events can receive the second dose.
Vaccination against COVID-19 remains the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19. The benefits of vaccination are many and include protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19 for the individual, as well as indirect benefits for the community. The risk of potential outbreaks of COVID-19 is ever-present. The Australian population remains largely unimmunised and susceptible to COVID-19 risks.
People who choose to delay vaccination until a vaccine other than AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is available should be aware they may not be protected against COVID-19 for months. ATAGI and THANZ acknowledge the challenges of decision making as information continues to emerge.
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