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'I take responsibility': Scott Morrison apologises for vaccine rollout delays

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised to Australians for delays to the national vaccine rollout.

After previously resisting calls to say 'sorry', the PM dramatically shifted his tone when speaking to the media at the Lodge on Thursday.

“I take responsibility for the vaccination program. I also take responsibility for the challenges we’ve had,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference in Canberra, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Source: AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken responsibility for Australia's sluggish vaccine rollout. Source: AAP

Mr Morrison said more than 15 per cent of the Australian population was fully vaccinated, touting a record 184,000 doses which were administered a day earlier.

But acknowledged the rollout was well behind schedule.

"Obviously some things are within our control, some things that are not.

I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to achieve the marks that we had hoped for at the beginning of this year. Of course I am.Scott Morrison

“But what’s more important is that we’re totally focused on ensuring that we’ve been turning this around.”

His apology came the same day NSW marked its highest daily case total of the Delta outbreak, recording a further 124 locally acquired cases, eclipsing the previous highest of 112 on July 12.

PM apologises after 24 hours of scrutiny

Mr Morrison faced backlash on Wednesday after refusing to take responsibility for the failure of the vaccine program and as a result, lockdowns in three of Australia’s capital cities.

Adelaide’s FIVEaa radio hosts David and Will told the PM: “The reason you’ve got 12 million people in lockdown is because you got it (the rollout) so wrong in the first place.”

“No, I don’t accept that,” Mr Morrison said.

The PM made similar comments on ABC radio.

“We’ve had our problems … many have been out of our control.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference in Canberra, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Source: AAP
The Prime Minister has faced mounting pressure to acknowledge failures in the vaccine program after more than half the country entered lockdown. Source: AAP

Australia’s vaccine rollout: what were we promised?

Despite being among the world’s success stories in the fight against coronavirus, Australia has been slower than most others to immunise its population.

The initial goal was to have four million doses administered by the end of March.

But Australia is currently around 3.4 million doses short of this mark.

Mr Morrison has repeatedly come under fire for supply shortages and mismanagement of the country's sluggish vaccine rollout.

"No country gets everything right, no prime minister gets everything right as well," he said.

A healthcare Worker hands in surgical gloves pulling COVID-19 vaccine liquid from vial to vaccinate a patient. Source: Getty Images
Australia has been slower than most other countries to immunise its population against COVID-19. Source: Getty Images

Online backlash grows against PM despite apology

After a tough 24 hours of scrutiny over the vaccine rollout, Mr Morrison’s apology has done little to silence criticism online over his management of the program.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took to Twitter, accusing the PM of responding to poor polling.

“All of which means the Liberal Party pollsters came in to #ScottyFromMarketing’s office last night with the polling results - that Australians are angry because he has failed to order enough vaccines for the country.

And that’s why Scotty apologised today,” he wrote.

Advertising executive and political campaigner Dee Madigan slammed Mr Morrison’s comment that Australia was “turning things around.”

“Lemme check that. 4 weeks ago, we were coming last. And today we’re coming… wait for it… last. Some turnaround.”

Meanwhile, Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek, who was among those calling for an apology, was a little less harsh in her response.

“Being a leader means showing up when times are tough and taking responsibility.”

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt didn't acknowledge the PM’s apology online, instead touting the progress of the vaccine rollout.

“Australia's vaccine rollout continues to gather pace, with a record 184,530 doses administered yesterday," he wrote.

"Thank you to everyone for coming forwards and our health professionals. If it is your time, please get vaccinated.”

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