Topics: Flu vaccines for senior Australians; Resources for private hospitals; Public gathering rules in South Australia.
Now look, a couple of very important announcements have been made by the Federal Health Minister overnight. There’s a vaccine for the 65 pluses that is available and the Federal Government are fast tracking this and we’ll tell you how can get it.
We’ll also drill down a little bit into the fact that the Government have done a landmark deal, that’s the Federal Government, with all states and territories about private hospitals.
Let’s welcome the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. Greg, thank you very much for joining us.
Good morning, Leon.
Well let’s start with the vaccinations for the people who are the most vulnerable.
(Inaudible) flu vaccinations.
Yeah. So firstly, it’s a flu vaccination. We’re not there yet on coronavirus but we are actually working on vaccination, minimisations and potential cures.
But one of the other things that in any year can affect Australians, particularly seniors, is the flu.
So we are releasing the flu vaccination. It’s available through GPs and pharmacists. It’s one of the reasons why whilst we’re generally discouraging people from going out, this would be appropriate.
Call ahead to your pharmacist or your GP.
There are 13.5 million doses we’re making available around the country and for all of our seniors, for pregnant women, for you know, Indigenous people who – and everybody who – when I say seniors, 65 and older – and then for young children between six months and five years, it will also be free.
So this is a very important thing to do just to help protect against any additional outbreaks in the country of flu.
Our lives lost from flu are down as opposed to this time last year.
But the more we can do to protect our general health, the healthier we will be against any outbreak of coronavirus. So the vaccinations are out there now.
So before we- so before we get to the next subject, the message is if you’re 65 or over or you’ve got somebody, dear friend, loved one, family member, encourage them to go to their GP or pharmacist and get this particular vaccination.
Now, just that one query. The vaccination for those most at risk is different to one that you might give somebody in their 20s, 30s and 40s, is it not?
So there are two different types of vaccination. It is designed for different needs.
The over 65 have what’s called a quadrivalent vaccine and that’ll be made available to them so it’s called Fluad Quad.
And there are four million, particularly for the 65 and older.
Both vaccines are very good but that one is targeted at their particular needs.
Now, next thing. Now, this is really important with the private hospitals and I will clarify a couple of issues that I’ve been asked about.
You’ve partnered with the private hospital sector and this is across Australia, is it not? To ensure the full resources of private hospitals are available.
Now, the quid pro quo – and this is where a lot of people are asking questions – is that most elective surgery is being put off so that beds are available if we need them. Is that correct?
Look, that’s correct. It’s been a very difficult decision but the- all of the medical groups, you know, whether it’s the surgeons themselves, whether it’s the Council of Medical Colleges, whether it’s, you know, the medical- the state chief health officers who were particularly strong on this have recognised that we need to take the steps that will allow our full capacity to be available.
And then the agreement and the partnership with the private hospitals is they’ll have state partnerships which we’ll support 50 per cent of, on top of that, we’ll provide a guarantee of their viability.
So we’ll cover any gaps in the cost and in turn, they become effectively partnered with the public health system across Australia.
So 30,000- over 30,000 beds, 105,000 staff, 57,000 nurses all being brought into the fight against coronavirus.
It may be that a private hospital picks up public hospital patients.
It might be that they are doing- doing work in terms of making their ICUs available. About a third of ICUs are in private hospitals. Staff or equipment could move in either direction.
There could be, if you’re a day hospital, it might become an emergency centre.
If there’s an outbreak in an aged care centre, it could be a flu clinic or a testing clinic.
People are really coming to the (inaudible) and nurses get their jobs guaranteed as a result of this because it would be, to me, unthinkable for nurses to be losing their jobs at a time like this.
Okay. One other question and this is something that a lot of people have rung about.
The Federal Government and your recommendations from the Chief Health Officer is – let’s talk about the general principle of no more than two people gathering.
In SA, certainly the police have said, well look, we won’t police it up until it’s past 10 people. Some people see this as a mixed message.
So let’s ask a basic question, Minister: what is your preferred position for people in South Australia to be safe from corona?
Okay. So the preferred- our preferred position is to not go out unless you need to for, you know, really four basic reasons.
And they are firstly, for work or education, if you can’t do that at home. And we consider work is essential because there are so many interlinked parts of the economy that unfortunately some retail areas, particularly the gathering areas, have had to have been prevented for the time being. But for work.
Secondly, for shopping for essential things. Of course, there are going to be 150,000 babies born over a six-month period on average in Australia. And so, it might be for a pram or something like that, for a family, it could be for food, it could- you know, we’re not defining what’s essential for each individual family. I think that’s just undesirable. But we’re relying on the common sense of people and they’ve been amazing and incredible on that front.
Thirdly, for medical and related purposes, and then fourthly, is to make sure that people get their exercise. They need that exercise for their health and their mental health, and to keep to small groups when you do that.
Minister, thank you for coming on today and I think it’s fair to say that the majority of Australians think that you’re doing a pretty fine job at the moment under very difficult circumstances. Are you sleeping at all?
Look, it’s a little bit busy, I’ll just put it that way. And I’m not so fussed about sleep. So long as I get to see my kids and my wife and then get my own exercise, those are the two things that matter to me.
So my hierarchy of personal needs is exercise over sleep, and sleep over food. But I’m fine.
It’s the people who are doing it tough, who’ve lost their jobs, that we’re now beginning to increasingly guarantee, it’s the people who are isolated or those that are ill, they’re the ones that I’m concerned about.
And I’ve got to say, just thank you to all of your listeners. They are the people who are helping us flatten the curve, to make those early steps, to reduce the infections.
And our job at the same time is to do what we’ve done with the hospitals, is to boost the capacity in the hospitals and boost the capacity through this once in a century redesign of Medicare with telehealth.
So your listeners are the ones who are doing the amazing thing.
Minister, thanks for joining us. That’s the Federal Health Minister.