'Way behind schedule': Australia's new Covid vaccine goal

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read

The Morrison government is aiming to have all Australians inoculated with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year.

But Trade Minister Dan Tehan says the world is still under the cloud of a pandemic and things can quickly change.

Last week, the government's vaccine program suffered a major set-back after health authorities recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to people above 50 due to the risk of blood clotting.

It was the vaccine the government was relying heavily on, but it has since secured an additional 20 million Pfizer vaccine doses that will be shipped from abroad later in the year.

Paramedic Rhiannon Gallatly (right) receives a AstraZeneca covid19 vaccination at the Royal Exhibition Centre in Melbourne. Source: AAP
The Morrison government is aiming to have all Australians inoculated with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year. Source: AAP

"That is definitely the aim, that is the goal we have set trying to have all Australians have a dose by the end of the year," Mr Tehan told Sky News' Sunday Agenda program.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison originally planned to have all Australians vaccinated by October.

"When you are dealing with a pandemic, there is a lot of unknowns and you have just got to make sure you set your goals and are prepared to adjust those as things occur," Mr Tehan said.

Labor's health spokesman Mark Butler said the government should have secured more vaccine deals to ensure there was a backup when something like the AstraZeneca situation arose.

"We are now in a very difficult situation," Mr Butler told ABC's Insider program.

"Australia was already way behind schedule in the vaccine rollout, not in the top-100 nations in the world and a bad situation has been made far worse by these unforeseen events around the AstraZeneca vaccine."

Australia has just passed the one million mark in terms of vaccinations, well short of the four million Mr Morrison originally promised by the end March.

People dine on Degraves Street in Melbourne. Source: AAP
Victoria and NSW have reported no new cases of Covid in the past day. Source: AAP

Mr Tehan will embark on a "vaccine diplomacy" trip to Europe from Wednesday.

He will speak with the European Union and his ministerial counterparts in France, Germany and Brussels.

"I will also be meeting the director general of the World Trade Organisation to talk about what we can do to ensure supply of the vaccine, not only for Australia, but globally," Mr Tehan said.

Pacific nations will soon have shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in Australia to distribute, with the government promising to export 10,000 doses a week.

The government says it will start with hard-hit Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.

Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will also begin to receive doses in the coming weeks.

In a joint statement, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja said: "Our region's health security and economic recovery is intertwined with our own".

Queensland on Sunday reported no new Covid-19 community transmission cases.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there was one case believed to be an historic link to the recent Byron Bay cluster and was under investigation, adding it was not a risk to the community.

Victoria and NSW have reported no new cases of Covid in the past day.

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