My Health Record website changed over misleading vaccine advice

By | April 12, 2021

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommends people who get the AstraZeneca vaccine wait 12 weeks between their first and second doses.

Lyneham resident John May was told as much by his general practitioner when he got his first jab of the vaccine on March 24.

A card showing when John May received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A card showing when John May received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

He expected to get his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid-June, and so was surprised when he logged onto My Health Record and saw a reminder that he was “due” for his second jab on April 21.

That would have been four weeks after his first dose.

“I think the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing,” Mr May said.

“I just happened to wander onto the My Health website and discovered the reminder.”

The vaccine reminder John May got when he logged onto My Health Record.

The vaccine reminder John May got when he logged onto My Health Record.

The 76-year-old was confused about when he should get his second dose of the vaccine after he saw the reminder.

A spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health said doses of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine could be given between four and 12 weeks apart, so the website was correct to advise Mr May he could get his second dose on April 21.

She said My Health Record had, as at last Friday, been updated to default to a 12-week reminder.

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National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance director Professor Kristine Macartney said that, despite the official recommendation, the minimum interval between first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was four weeks.

“Circumstances where you might want to think about that would be, say, if you were travelling overseas or if you had another reason that you couldn’t access the second dose in the anticipated 12-week timeframe,” she said.

“Clinical trials were done with a range of timeframes between the first and the second dose.

“There was an analysis done after the clinical trials that suggested the people that got the second dose at 12 weeks rather than say, four weeks or eight weeks, that their protection after that second dose was possibly greater than those who got the [second dose] at four weeks.”

Professor Macartney said most countries who were using the AstraZeneca vaccine were keeping about 12 weeks between first and second doses; also in line with advice from the World Health Organisation.

However, she said some countries might choose to shorten that interval to suit their vaccine rollout.

First and second doses of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine should be given at least three weeks apart.

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