Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to have Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination complete by the end of October and has committed an extra $1.9 billion boost to ensure this happens quickly.
In his National Press Club address on Monday, Mr Morrison also committed to the rollout starting in “just a few weeks”, despite the European Union (EU) introducing tough new rules on exports of COVID-19 vaccines that could affect shipments to Australia.
“Our guidance … is that first vaccinations remain on track to be in Australia, ready for shipping and distribution to priority groups in late February,” Mr Morrison explained.
“However, the final commencement date will depend on developments overseas, which we will continue to monitor and update accordingly.
“This initiative is backed by $1.9 billion for the vaccine rollout, on top of the more than $4.4 billion allocated for vaccine purchases, medical support and support for our partner countries.
“Our aim is to, overall, give Australians the opportunity to be vaccinated by October of this year, commencing in just a few weeks’ time.”
On Sunday, health minister Greg Hunt also explained that he did not expect the EU decision to have a significant impact on Australia’s access to both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.
“Our advice is that our vaccine supply and guidance remain on track,” Mr Hunt said. “Those dates that we provided earlier on in the week followed discussions with country heads of Pfizer and AstraZeneca, (and) took into account supply and regulatory conditions within Europe and have been reaffirmed in the last 24 hours.
“The guidance from the EU is provisional and preliminary at this stage, so I will remain cautious, but that guidance is that the EU regulatory steps are not aimed at Australia and are not expected to affect Australia.”
While Mr Morrison tried to put a positive spin on rollout of the COVID-19 vaccinations, he refused to condemn rogue government member Craig Kelly for the misinformation he continued to post on social media.
Mr Morrison was asked about what he was doing to keep Mr Kelly in check when it was important for the public to have confidence in the vaccine, he deflected by telling Australians not to get their health information from social media.
“We’ve been very clear to point out where you get your information from, you don’t get it from Facebook,” Mr Morrison said. “You get it from official government websites, and that’s what I encourage everyone to do. That’s what we’re doing.
“Don’t go to Facebook to find out about the vaccine. Go to official government websites.”
Do you trust the government to roll out the vaccine on time? Are you worried that Australia didn’t do enough to secure the vaccine doses to put us at the front of the queue? Should the government do more to combat vaccination misinformation from within its own ranks?
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