With a roll out of a Covid-19 vaccine forecast for Australia by mid next year, more and more concerns are being raised over safety and side effects of the jab.
Professor Karen Phelps and and infectious diseases specialist Sanjaya Senanyake appeared on A Current Affair to answer Australians’ burning questions.
What are the long term affects?
Professor Phelps said this is ‘tricky’ to answer because the vaccine hasn’t been around for ‘very long’.
‘It’s been in clinical trials, and so we don’t know what the long term side effects are,’ she said.
‘We can’t know until the vaccine has been out there in the population for longer.
‘We do know that the short term effects look a lot like a lot of other vaccines such as the flu vaccine.’
Sanjaya Senanyake said it would be ‘really unusual’ to see long term side effects years after getting the Covid-19 jab
Professor Phelps said this includes soreness where the vaccine was injected, as well as possible fever, headaches and join pain.
Dr Senanyake said it would be ‘really unusual’ to see long term side effects years after getting the Covid-19 jab.
‘Of course, the Pfizer vaccine, for instance, has been given to 20,000 people. We would be looking for rare side effects it in one in 20,000,’ he said.
‘As it gets rolled out across the United Kingdom, we might get an idea of those really rare side-effects, like one in 1 million.’
Would those with compromised immune systems be suitable candidates for the vaccine?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen during a tour of the University of Queensland Vaccine Lab on October 12
‘There are going to be some patients and some clinical situations where we’re going to have to make a judgement on a case-by-case basis,’ Prof Phelps said.
She said patients who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer will need special consideration when it comes to being vaccinated.
‘The main issue is that [those with compromised immune systems] may not get the same level of immunity from the vaccination as someone who is not immune compromised,’ she said.
Professor Phelps said there will need to be a particular selection of patients for a particular type of vaccine to make sure they are safe.
‘Children will not be vaccinated until we’re happy with the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine that is planned for release here in Australia,’ Prof Phelps said
How will the Covid-19 vaccination fit into children’s vaccination schedules?
‘At the moment it is not a children’s vaccine. Children react differently to immunisations compared with adults,’ Professor Phelps said.
‘It may well be that a special vaccine or a special vaccine dose is formulated for children that has not been tested yet. We are going to be waiting.’
Professor Phelps said it will be initially healthcare workers and elderly people and others at risk who will be first in line to receive the jab.
‘Children will not be vaccinated until we’re happy with the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine that is planned for release here in Australia,’ she said.
Will the Australian Government make the vaccine accessible for Aussie expats living overseas?
‘I think will be important for the Australian government to negotiate something for our citizens overseas,’ Dr Senanyake said.
‘Because, of course, the airlines, in particular Qantas have said they will not allow people to travel without a vaccine on their planes.
‘I think it is an issue that may have been missed early on. It is a really important issue for governments, not just the Australian government, but all governments to address.’
Professor Phelps said at this stage immunologists don’t have the data for safety and effectiveness for pregnant women
Is the vaccine safe for pregnant women?
Professor Phelps said at this stage immunologists don’t have the data for safety and effectiveness for pregnant women.
‘We have to have the selection of the right vaccine for pregnant women,’ she said.
‘That would be most likely a vaccine that was not a live virus vaccine that was not a live virus vaccine and most likely not one of the new gene technology vaccines.
‘Of course we do vaccinate pregnant women. For example, for influenza, while they are pregnant. That is done for the safety of the mother and the baby.
Professor Phelps said, like with any new vaccine, it would need to be ran through trials and safety for effectiveness. ‘What we have to do
‘It will be important for there to be clinical trials on pregnant women to check for safety before it is rolled out,’ she said.
The University of Queensland is developing a vaccine in partnership with pharmaceutical company CSL – and the government has ordered 51 million doses
One vaccine created by US firm Pfizer is already being rolled out in the UK after getting emergency approval – but it is not expected to be approved Down Under until late January
Australia’s domestically made coronavirus vaccine will not be ready until mid next year despite foreign jabs being rolled out in March.
The University of Queensland is developing a vaccine in partnership with pharmaceutical company CSL – and the government has ordered 51 million doses.
Phase two and three trials are expected to start this month, meaning the jab could be rolled out in the middle of next year if they are successful, the university’s Professor Paul Young told The Australian Financial Review Innovation Summit.
In the meantime, Australia will use up to three vaccines created abroad,- with the first jabs expected to be given in March.
One vaccine created by US firm Pfizer is already being rolled out in the UK after getting emergency approval – but it is not expected to be approved Down Under until late January.
The government wants everyone who requests a jab to be vaccinated by the end of 2021.