It hasn’t been a good week for vaccination public relations.
The Queensland premier insists the COVID vaccine rollout is on track, despite her state being thrown into lockdown by an outbreak involving an un-vaccinated nurse.
Meanwhile, Australia overall is 3.4 million doses short of its vaccination target for the end of March and the states are at war with the federal government over why the rollout is so tardy.
Overseas, in Canada and parts of Germany, the AstraZeneca vaccine most Australians are slated to receive has been suspended for younger people.
This morning, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk denied her government was “stockpiling” vaccines. She said the state had to make sure it had enough for frontline workers to receive their second vaccine shot.
“If the Commonwealth can tell us what their supply is, we are more than happy to roll out the rest of that as quickly as possible.”
Ms Palaszczuk said she needed a “surety of supply” from the federal government.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was “extremely unfair” that her state was given 24 to 48 hours’ notice about how many doses it will receive.
“We want to work with the federal government … but I will not have untrue statements made publicly about what is a complex system…”
Read more: When will you get the vaccine?
While Ms Berejiklian was peeved, her health minister, Brad Hazzard, was offended and “extremely angry” and said other state ministers shared his outrage.
“It is not appropriate that we wake up and find figures put into the media that haven’t been shared with any state or territory governments. It is not appropriate that those figures be put in a light that is misleading… “
He said doing so was “misleading”, “wholly inappropriate”, “very disappointing” and “offensive”.
“Let me make it very clear, I am as angry as I have ever been in this 15 months of war against this virus. All governments in Australia should be working together.”
Mr Hazzard said the federal government informed NSW last week it would receive 13,000 vaccines, then delivered 45,000 and released a press report saying NSW hadn’t distributed them all. He said the federal government should be offering apologies to all state governments.
“Let’s get this really, really clear – the New South Wales government was asked to roll out 300,000 vaccinations to the groups in 1A and 1B. Of that we have done 100,000. The federal government was asked and is responsible for 5.5 million people and they have rolled out 50,000. I think the figures speak for themselves… “
Queensland Deputy Premier Dr Stephen Miles accused the Morrison government of an “orchestrated attack on the states and territories”.
“What we’ve seen throughout this entire pandemic is every time the Morrison government wants to deflect from their failings, they launch an attack on the states and territories. And that’s what we’ve seen overnight.
“I mean, God knows, they’ve got a lot to deflect from right now, not least of which is their vaccine rollout… “
Read more: Vaccine availability for over-70s.
Meanwhile, the vaccine that Australia can’t roll out quickly enough is again being suspended overseas.
“There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” Dr Shelley Deeks, vice chair of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunisation told AP.
Dr Deeks said her position was based on new data from Europe that suggested the risk of blood clots is “potentially as high as one in 100,000”. It was previously rated as one in one million.
Several German regions suspended use of AstraZeneca shots in people under 60 after reviewing information about rare side effects released by Germany’s medical regulator.
Two weeks ago, the European Union drug regulator concluded that the vaccine did not increase the occurrence of blood clots.
Queensland officials say 89 per cent of frontline health workers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and the state is on track to have its target of 125,000 being vaccinated by 4 April.
Australia has administered just 600,000 doses of the COVID vaccine – 3.4 million short of the 4 million target set by Mr Morrison for the end of March.
The slow rollout is blamed on delays of shipments from overseas, the impact of the NSW flood disaster and issues with the booking system.
Are you concerned by the slow rollout? Are you waiting to receive a vaccine? When do you expect to get vaccinated?
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