The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
28 May 2021
INTERVIEW WITH KARL STEFANOVIC AND ALLISON LANGDON
THE TODAY SHOW
Topics: COVID vaccination update
Hey, Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us now from Canberra. Minister, you’ve obviously never seen a more brave person in your life.
It’s like a scene out of Braveheart, Karl. I was thinking of Mel Gibson, freedom. I can just see you in that role. But look, to both of you, thank you. It’s setting an example. In the next 24 hours, we’ll pass four million Australians who’ve been vaccinated. That’s just a critical step forward.
Around the world, people are being vaccinated. Here in Australia they are stepping forward and we want everybody to come forward as soon as they’re eligible.
But Minister, when you say there that four million Australians vaccinated, is that just their first dose? Because we heard you last night say that only half a million Australians have been fully vaccinated.
Well I think the focus here is making sure that as many people have their first dose as possible. We have the AstraZeneca program which is the backbone of our Australian program. That’s a 12-week course between first and second doses. That 12 weeks isn’t due to begin second dosing regime until next week.
Myself and Brendan Murphy, we’re due to have ours on Monday. We’ll be part of the first group within that to complete the 12 weeks. And so that’s a global standard, which has been adopted here. It does two things, it follows the medical advice, but it also means more people have earlier first doses than would otherwise be the case.
And that’s a very important program. Having people vaccinated for the first time, fundamentally important. And when the three weeks for Pfizer or the 12 weeks for AstraZeneca is completed, we want everybody to come forward for their second doses.
Minister, you’d have to concede that two per cent of the total population, it’s not really good enough, is it? I mean, from the outside perspective, from anyone’s perspective, really, it’s not good enough.
Well, with great respect, if it’s a 12-week regime, this is something that the ALP started to put around in the last 24 hours, and I know a couple of people have picked it up.
The medical advice is absolutely clear, there should be 12 weeks between first and second dose for AstraZeneca to have the optimal outcome, but it also has the effect that more people can be vaccinated earlier.
And that’s what the UK has done. That’s what many countries have done. And if that’s the medical advice, then that’s the optimal way. And with four million doses expected to be passed in the next 24 hours, every one of those doses is providing protection.
And I have heard this being put around by the ALP. I think it’s a very dangerous development that they’re trying to imply that the first dose doesn’t provide protection. The first dose provides the bulk of the protection, the second dose adds additional protection and longevity on all of the medical advice that we have. So, please everybody come forward and do not wait.
Minister, we’re not talking about the time between the vaccinations here, between the jabs. I mean, what we’re looking at is the fact that so few Australians have been vaccinated. The rollout has been slow and we still have aged care homes who haven’t received any vaccines. We’re not protecting our most vulnerable.
No, with great respect, by the end of today, 99 per cent of aged care homes approximately around Australia should have received vaccinations. And we’re expecting to achieve the 100 per cent mark for residential aged care facilities in Victoria.
So that’s been an extraordinary monumental national undertaking to reach into over 2,500 homes, to ensure that those doses have been given, that the most vulnerable are being protected. And indeed, the difference between what occurred in Victoria last time and this time is that by the end of today, we’ll have a hundred per cent of those residential aged care facilities in the Commonwealth program that will have received vaccinations, whereas there was no vaccine a year ago in Victoria.
And it means that our elderly are in a vastly different position. And we’ve also now got over 50 per cent of over 70s around the nation who’ve been vaccinated. They are also in the next most vulnerable group, and we want to encourage them to keep coming forward.
Every vaccine, every vaccination, helps protect them. So, the earlier you can come forward, please keep doing that. And I think- I know Karl you were talking about your mum at one point. If mum hasn’t had the vaccine yet, please come forward.
My 89-year-old mother-in-law who lives with us went down to the Rosebud GP respiratory clinic in the first week in which vaccines were open for them, made the booking through the booking finder, the eligibility checker. And that’s provided her with an important measure of protection.
Yeah, mum is going to go get it when she’s back in Cairns soon. I’m just I’m concerned I’m going to look after her if she falls ill in way, in any capacity.
She’ll be all right. What’s wrong with looking after your mother?
No, she always wants me to make soup and all those sort of things.
So you should. That’s what a good son would do.
I know. I’m a good son. Hey Greg, thank you for your time today. Lots on.
I’m with Ally, Karl.
That’ll be right.
Thank you, Minister.