'Step forward': Julia Gillard makes vaccine plea in surprise appearance

·3-min read

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made a surprise appearance alongside Health Minister Greg Hunt and issued an urgent plea for Australians to get a Covid-19 vaccination.

Ms Gillard and Mr Hunt both received their coronavirus vaccinations before a press conference in Melbourne Sunday.

The former PM said her appearance was part of a “united message” despite being on “different sides of politics” to Mr Hunt who was the Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Heritage while Ms Gillard was the Prime Minister.

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Health Minister Greg Hunt call for people to get vaccinated.
Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Health Minister Greg Hunt call for people to get vaccinated. Source: ABC

“I do remember back in the day, the occasional crossword on things like climate change and carbon policy and all the rest of it,” she told reporters.

“So me being here today is a visible representation that no matter what side of politics you barrack for, no matter whom you intend to vote for, there is a united message, and that there is a united message, and that united message is please get the vaccine.”

Ms Gillard urged people to "step forward" and receive a vaccination, noting that women were likely to be more cautious about receiving the vaccine than men.

The government is focusing on easing community anxiety and refuting online conspiracies against vaccines as it ramps up its rollout.

The road ahead for Australia's vaccine rollout

Mr Hunt said Australia will receive about one million doses of CSL AstraZeneca vaccine between March 22 and March 29.

He added the week of March 22 will see the commencement of Phase 1B.

Registered Nurse (RN) Christina O'Donnell holds a vial of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Townsville University Hospital in Townsville, Australia.
A Townsville nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer vaccine. Source: Getty Images

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy added healthcare, border and frontline workers were the first to receive vaccinations with the week beginning March 22 to focus on over 80s and over 70s.

"Once we have done the over 70s and 80s and some particular high-risk groups like emergency workers, police, then we start moving through other aged groups," Professor Murphy said.

"Sixties and then under 60s and then we broaden it out and we will have more sites and be vaccinating pretty much everybody who is over 18.

"And as minister Hunt says, when we know whether the vaccines are effective against children we may then extend [it] to children, not because children really need protecting ... But there may be a benefit in preventing further transmission."

Professor Murphy added people will be able to see if they are eligible for a vaccine via an online tracker.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24: Minister for Health Greg Hunt at Parliament House on February 24, 2021 in Canberra, Australia. Two elderly people in Queensland were given an incorrect dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed. The doctor who administered the doses has been stood down from the vaccine rollout programme. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
Minister for Health Greg Hunt has been vaccinated and is urging all Australians to do the same when the opportunity comes. Source: Getty Images

Minister shuts down anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists

Mr Hunt was asked about online conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers to which he replied: "Vaccines save lives".

“When we look at smallpox, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, influenza, measles, mumps, when we see the results out of the United Kingdom, we can see that not only do vaccinations save lives they've transformed the health system around the world but but they are also our global pathway out of Covid-19," Mr Hunt said.

“So we are doing incredibly well here in Australia but this gives Australia that safety going forwards into the future.

“So we've got no time for conspiracy theories. We don't want to elevate them.”

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