PM concedes 'step up' needed in disability

·2-min read

Scott Morrison has conceded the woefully slow coronavirus vaccine rollout in disability residential care needs to be stepped up.

The prime minister said the aged sector had been prioritised ahead of the disability sector despite the two being deemed as the most high risk.

The rollout in aged care is nearly complete, more than three months after it started.

But fewer than 1000 disability care residents and 1500 staff have received their coronavirus vaccine, despite being included in phase 1a.

More than 25,000 people with a disability who live in supported accommodation are still waiting for their jabs.

"We've got to step up the performance there, there's no doubt about that," Mr Morrison told reporters on Tuesday.

"I'm working with our health officials to achieve that."

Mr Morrison said complacency could not set in despite the virus not spreading widely through Australia's disability care facilities.

"That's why we do need to do more and do better when it comes to ensuring we're getting the vaccination levels up in our disabled community."

The government hopes to have priority groups vaccinated by the end of June.

Earlier, cabinet minister David Littleproud defended the failed vaccine rollout in disability care and falsely claimed there had been no coronavirus cases in the sector.

Mr Littleproud insisted it was acceptable that fewer than five per cent of people with disability in residential care had been inoculated.

"Yes, because it's part of the scheduled rollout," he told ABC radio.

Mr Littleproud said the bungled rollout had been "sensationalised" by his political opponents.

"There have been no cases of disability workers or people with disability," he said.

But in fact, there have been many cases, including the deaths of at least eight participants on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and one support worker.

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John, who lives with a disability, said somebody must be held accountable for the shockingly low vaccination rates.

"As the royal commission said, this program has been an abject failure when it comes to vaccinating disabled people," he told the ABC.

"There must now be accountability among the health department, and there must be an urgent review of every single document the health department has produced in relation to the pandemic to ensure disabled people are accurately accounted for there."

Senator Steele-John said health authorities needed to recognise methods for distributing vaccines among the broader community did not work for at-risk groups including people with disability.

"We need to find ways of getting the vaccine to vulnerable groups rather than relying on those groups to come to the vaccine," he said.

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten described the vaccine rollout in disability care as a national disgrace.