The nation's Covid vaccine rollout faces a mammoth task to ramp up the number of jabs administered if it has any chance of meeting the government's early projections.
The program officially got underway late last month, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying at a January press conference the federal government aimed to have four million Australians vaccinated by the end of March.
The latest data on Tuesday shows Australia has administered just over 90,000 doses to date, lagging well behind early pronouncements from the government about its stated targets.
The slow start has seen the pace of Australia's rollout lag behind the vaccination efforts of countries such as Senegal and Bangladesh, according to data compiled by Oxford University.
Big Covid vaccine push 'is about to happen'
Dr Chris Moy from the Australian Medical Association worked with the government on its planned rollout which will see GP clinics administer the vaccinations at an intended rate of about 1 million per week during the peak of the rollout.
“These are targets, there's a lots of moving parts including the critical aspect of supply,” he told Yahoo News Australia when asked about the slow start.
“The thing to keep in mind is at the moment we’ve really only done the very pointy end of the Pfizer amount ... for the high-risk troops like hotel quarantine workers."
However there has been "some difficulty they've found in aged care which has logistically been a lot more difficult than than they thought," he said, in part due to the extreme freezing requirements of that vaccine.
So far it's been the calm before the storm, Dr Moy says, as shipments of the Astrazeneca vaccine will allow the rollout to significantly ramp up at the end of March, albeit slightly later than hoped.
Meanwhile domestic vaccine production will come online in the following months dramatically increasing capacity.
"We've really only just had the skirmishes of the critical frontline care," he said. "The battle is really only going to start beginning at the end of March."
There will be roughly 4600 GP clinics across the country tasked with administering the vaccine, with Dr Moy saying "the big push is about to happen".
"Having lots of points of distribution will minimise the chance of failure," he said.
'What a joke': Questions raised over release of data
While the numbers so far have been modest, criticism has been levelled at the national cabinet for the limited amount of data it has reportedly agreed to publish on the rollout.
It appears information such as data showing the number of vaccines administered as a portion of those allocated has disappeared from the federal health department's website.
The health department did not respond to requests for comment but a department spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia they expect more comprehensive data from the rollout will be made public when the data flow from states is more readily available.
#BREAKING The Commonwealth Health Department has published the vaccination data for the week ending March 7. Apparently this is the format Premiers at National Cabinet agreed to: a kitsch weekly PDF with no context to the data (such as % administered vs allocated). What a joke. pic.twitter.com/o1gDBz2EZB
— Clare Armstrong (@ByClare) March 8, 2021
Queensland Premier warns: 'don't disrespect the process'
In the face of criticism about the slow pace of the rollout in Queensland, state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters Monday the coronavirus vaccine can only be rolled out as fast as it's being supplied by the federal government.
The premier said no concerns were raised about the speed of Queensland's vaccine drive during a national cabinet meeting last Friday and the state could only roll out the jabs as fast as it received supplies from the federal government.
"All of this is being done in consultation with the Commonwealth, so please don't disrespect the process," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"We want to get it right, we want it to be rolled out smoothly, and of course we are making sure that the people have the adequate training to do this.
"It is very important, if we want to see more strength in our economy nationally we need to make sure that people are taking up the vaccine."
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