Topics: COVID-19 Vaccine rollout; Vaccine advice.
Now, the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is with me, and I want to address a couple of the issues that were raised by David Moody, CEO of the National Disability Service.
Minister, thanks for joining us.
Good afternoon, Deb.
Now, David Moody was very pleased now that the Pfizer vaccine is going to be made available. That was part of an announcement you’ve delivered for that sector, for members of the disability sector and other of our most vulnerable.
But he was saying that it’s all good and well to have a commitment for the Pfizer vaccine, but with no timetable, it’s going to make it very challenging.
So the two things that are occurring here. One is the general rollout continues as it is, because we have AstraZeneca that’s focused on 8 million people over 50.
And then with regards to the disability sector, there’s already been considerable in-reach. We’ve been doing work with the disability sector for those that are under 50, as it is across the country. That’s the area where we have to change.
Disability is one where we’re working with the sector. And indeed, I’ve been talking with Linda Reynolds who’s the relevant Minister today. So that, we’re working through. The whole world has had to adjust slightly because of some of the medical science and the findings. And in terms of safety, we have a very clear program of vaccines for over 50s and under 50s.
And that’s the AstraZeneca for the over 50s, others with their doctor. Under 50 choose that, then that’s also available. Or we have the Pfizer for under 50, but we’re working through that program given some of the changes last week. And the disability sector has been great.
So we’ll just make sure that everybody who seeks to be vaccinated is vaccinated. And as we’ve done through the pandemic: safety first, medical advice first, and then where we have to make adjustments as we are now, honestly, with the under 50s, then that’s what we’re doing.
You say that you have a clear program, but the reality is many people are very confused about what they should be doing now with the different health advice. They’re saying: look, should I get the jab if there’s concerns about the blood clots? I don’t know if I want to. Should I be asking for the Pfizer?
You say it’s a clear program, but I think there’s a lot of confusion.
Well look, I think that’s a fair question. So to summarise it, our medical advice in Australia is absolutely clear, that having a vaccination is critical to the safety of Australians.
We’re fortunate and another day of zero cases. I think today that makes 62 for the year. And around the world there are 697,000 cases, and over 10,900 lives lost. Australia, zero, the world, 697,000 cases.
But what that says about the world is we remain at risk. That’s why we have to be vaccinated as a country. We currently have the over 70s and over 80s program, the Indigenous over 55s.
Everybody who’s part of that program, we’d encourage everybody to continue to be vaccinated. That’s the AstraZeneca program. And the medical advice has been strong, clear and categorical that that program is safe, it should proceed.
In the UK, they have set an age over 30, so we’ve been far more conservative with our medical advice in Australia. That’s what’s been given, that’s what we’ve accepted.
Secondly, we also have had and continue to have an ongoing Pfizer program, and the Pfizer program will now be very strongly focussed on the under 50s. But we have to do some planning on that.
And right now, for the coming months, the bulk of national work as the general practices has expanded from just over a thousand a few weeks ago, to now over 4000 by the end of this week. The bulk of that work is done on age, and that age is over 70s and 80s now.
And we continue to encourage everybody. The medical advice is clear. And then that will move to the over 50s and the 60s. And we continue to encourage everybody.
And then in the second half of the year, as was planned in any event, as the additional Pfizer vaccines come on board, that also coincides with when we would’ve started for the under 50s.
Yeah, well, look, it is something we need to stay in touch with you. Time is against us, unfortunately. But Minister, we thank you for your time today.
That’s right. Thank you. And we’ll get everybody vaccinated. We’ve got 170 million vaccines.
We’ve got get it done. That is for sure. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Afternoons.