In a blow to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine rollout, there has been another "extremely rare" case of a death linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the second such death recorded in Australia.
Australia's chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said the 52-year-old New South Wales woman who died received the vaccine a couple of weeks ago and developed the severe blood clotting thrombosis disorder known as TTS (thrombocytopenia syndrome).
It is not known whether she had any underlying medical conditions.
"I will point out that it is only the second death with now over 3.6 million doses of this vaccine being given across Australia," Prof Kelly said.
"I will point out that this remains an extremely rare event to get these serious clots, but when they happen, as we have seen in this case, it can have tragic circumstances.
"My heart goes out to the family and all the friends and colleagues of this particular person."
In April, a 48-year-old New South Wales woman, who had several chronic health conditions, died after receiving the vaccine.
Australia's drugs regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), says there have been 48 confirmed and probable TTS cases in Australia.
The TGA has advised it had found another seven blood clot cases this week.
Due to the rare, but serious adverse blood clot reactions, the expert group on immunisations, ATAGI, issued a recommendation earlier this year against people under 50 getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Prof Kelly said the AstraZeneca vaccine remained an important part of Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
"I understand this is very concerning news," he said on Thursday.
"It is clearly concerning news to the family that are affected but I would say this: we have made those decisions based on the risk and benefit equation.
"At the moment, AstraZeneca is a really important element of the vaccine rollout. But nothing is compulsory, so individuals who have concerns about any medical procedure but including and in particular the private vaccine at this time should talk to their own GP about those concerns."
Prof Kelly said the New South Wales coroner would look into the woman's death and he would be writing to doctors about the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
"We just have to remember we've had 3.6 million doses of this vaccine, two tragic deaths, but other than that mostly this has worked well and continues to work well and with great safety," he said.
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