The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
20 August 2021
INTERVIEW WITH NATALIE BARR
Topics: Vaccination target in Australia; provisional approval for vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds.
Well, Australia has edged closer to its 80 per cent vaccination target. More than 16 million doses have now been delivered, 300,000 of them in a single day, setting a new record.
Eighty per cent of adults should be fully vaccinated in 95 days, that is by 22 November. And that date is expected to move closer with 8.6 million more people aged 16 to 39 eligible for Pfizer from August the 30th.
Joining me now is Health Minister Greg Hunt. Good morning to you, Minister.
Good morning, Nat.
This is welcome news, especially for New South Wales residents. Will Australia have enough supply to handle this new level of demand?
Look, yes, we do. And what we have is a very strong supplies, but very strong demand. Australians are doing a magnificent job, they’re coming forward.
Exactly as you said, over 300,000, 309,000 people in a single day on Wednesday and these are huge numbers. Think of it as the city of Wollongong or, over a 10-day period, the city of Brisbane, the population all vaccinated in that time.
So, we’re in that position now where from the 30th of August, we’ll be able to take bookings and open up for those that are 16 to 39. And already, four states and territories are doing that through their state systems.
So, it’s the next step and it’s about giving every Australian a chance to be vaccinated this year. And they’re doing a fantastic job.
Over 50 per cent, as you’ve said, of eligible Australians already had first vaccines.
Okay. Let’s talk about kids because a lot of parents are seeing Delta go through the student ranks. When are we going to see kids younger than 16, not just the 12 to 15-year-olds, even younger than that, be able to get vaccinated?
So, 12 to 15-year-olds, we’ve got provisional approval from our medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, that’s now being considered by the Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
I’m hopeful we’ll get a decision from them within the next week. And then, as a consequence of that, we’d be in a position to ensure that it’s made available for kids 12 to 15. It’s already open for kids with underlying medical conditions, Indigenous and remote children.
In terms of under that, at this stage we don’t have an application, clinical trials are being conducted around the world. And so, I don’t want to set any false expectations on information or timing, but those children under 12 would be the subject of new applications for existing vaccines and there are clinical trials overseas on that front. But nothing that’s immediate.
But the 12 to 15-year-olds, I’m very hopeful that in the course of the next week, we’ll get advice and approval from a Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. So, progress, progress, progress.
Yep. I know it’s frustrating. Look, you’re going into National Cabinet, is there going to be a fight there today? Because you’ve got the outlier states, I guess, Queensland and particularly WA saying, even when there is 70, 80 per cent vaccination, we may not open our borders.
Look, National Cabinet works to bring states together. That doesn’t mean we change 120 years of Federation. What it does do is it means that we keep a common course and a common direction and it plays an incredibly important role. And all states and territories have adopted and signed up to the 70 and 80 percent thresholds.
The way in which they implement it, we’ve always respected their role as jurisdictions based on the circumstances on the ground. But the direction for the country is clear, 70 percent, 80 percent, these numbers give Australians hope, a target, a common purpose and they give us a pathway.
Okay. Greg Hunt. Thanks very much.