NSW Tourism Minister calls out vaccine advisory body over mixed messaging

NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres has publicly called out peak vaccine advisory body, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), for sparking mass confusion over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine particularly for those under 50.

The advice for who should take AstraZeneca changed quickly after a number of bloodclotting cases were linked to the vaccine, pushing the recommended age limit for the those getting the jab to over 60.

With Greater Sydney at a standstill thanks to a lockdown that as yet has no definitive end date, Ayres has broken ranks to criticise the vaccine body for trying to “fit an airbag after a car crash”.

“With deaths increasing and people under 50 filling more hospital beds we need to be using our ample and increasing supplies of AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said in a report by The Daily Telegraph.

“ATAGI’s confusing advice has lead to less people getting vaccinated not more.

“Their short-sightedness has increased the risk of death, hospitalisation and sickness from Covid.

“Changing your advice after an outbreak is like fitting an airbag after a car crash.”

Sydney is battling a run of the Delta strain that is circulating across a wider age demographic, with 54 per cent of infections in people aged under 39.

NSW has the capacity to vaccinate 300,000 people a week with its current supply of AstraZeneca while it waits on new supplies of Pfizer.

“ATAGI unnecessarily allowed vaccination hesitancy to tackle hold with AstraZeneca and that has cost the nation months and hundreds of thousands if not millions of vaccine doses,” Ayres said.

“Young people in their thousands are rolling up their sleeves to protect all of us and avoid future lockdowns. They know we don’t live in a risk free world, it’s a shame ATAGI doesn’t know it too.”