CANBERRA, AAP – Elderly Australians have been given the medical regulator’s okay to get the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine after concerns raised from overseas were allayed.
About 30 elderly people from more than 40,000 died after receiving the jab in Norway, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration saying no causal link could be established between vaccination and deaths.
The TGA says very frail patients had died, including some who were only expected to live for weeks or months.
Medical regulators in North America, the UK and Europe have made similar conclusions.
“Elderly patients can receive this vaccine and there is no cap on the upper age limit,” the TGA said in a statement on Tuesday.
For frail patients over the age of 85, the TGA says the benefits of the vaccine should be weighed against the potential risk of even mild reactions.
The Pfizer vaccine was given approval last month and the rollout is expected to begin later this month.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the program remains on track, despite ongoing supply issues across Europe.
There were no new cases of local coronavirus transmission nationwide on Tuesday, with WA recording a second-straight zero infection day despite a hotel quarantine breach.
It comes as Australian doctors speak out to tell a controversial federal politician to act responsibly and stop spreading coronavirus misinformation.
The prime minister has refused to condemn Hughes MP Craig Kelly, prompting staunch criticism from the federal opposition and now the nation’s general practitioners.
President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Karen Price says it’s unacceptable Mr Kelly persists with spreading false information.
“I urge all public figures to act responsibly,” Dr Price posted on Twitter.
Mr Kelly has long fuelled divisive debate online with climate change denial posts and was quick to launch himself into internet medical research when the pandemic hit.
Mr Morrison has not criticised Mr Kelly for undermining his government’s public health messaging, instead telling the public to take advice from their doctors.
While most Liberal MPs have stayed in line with Mr Morrison’s statement, another has stressed the importance of everyone standing together in encouraging people to receive vaccines.
Mr Kelly has inflamed the situation by appearing on conspiracy theorist Pete Evans’ podcast.
Facebook removed Mr Evans’ page in December because he repeatedly breached its misinformation policies with coronavirus posts.
“We have clear policies against this type of content,” a spokesman said at the time.
The platform insists it does not allow anyone to share misinformation about COVID-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm, or misinformation about coronavirus vaccines that has been debunked by public health experts.