A photograph of a gloved hand holding a small bottle labelled COVID-19 Vaccine.

Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic requires more than just vaccines, with yesterday’s changes to the planned vaccine rollout again highlighting the need to maintain a broad-base approach to managing the pandemic.

Professor Ingrid Scheffer, President of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, said that the Australian Government had followed expert medical advice in recommending the Pfizer vaccine for adults aged under 50 years to reduce the risk of developing blood clots.

“After receiving advice on the Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, the Government has taken a cautious approach. They have provided new guidance to ensure that people can make educated and informed decisions when it’s their turn to be vaccinated,” she said.

Professor Tania Sorrell, Academy COVID-19 Expert Committee Chair and infectious diseases physician at the University of Sydney, said vaccines are an essential part of managing the pandemic, but need to be considered alongside a broader strategy.

“Vaccines offer a level of protection, but should not be seen as the silver bullet to COVID-19,” she said.

“We need to make sure that we continue with proven public health measures against COVID-19 such as handwashing and physical distancing.

“We also need to build capacity here in Australia to produce a number of different types of vaccines, particularly mRNA-based vaccines such as the one produced by Pfizer.

“Having a broader base of vaccine manufacturing will mean Australia no longer has to rely so heavily on offshore production.

“This provides us with a greater capacity to respond quickly in pandemic situations – not only for COVID-19, but for future infectious disease outbreaks.

“Then Australia will be better placed to protect and support everyone, including populations that are vulnerable to serious disease.”

Media: AAHMS Communication Manager Katie Rowney, [email protected] or 0419 797 511.

File images of Academy Fellows quoted available on request.

Find previous Academy statements, reports and briefings at the COVID-19 information hub.