Supply and demands
State leaders feel the strain over the federal government’s latest vaccine mishap
Premiers have taken aim at the federal government over the latest vaccine rollout setback, with even Liberal leaders keen to clarify that the worsening supply issue is a Commonwealth stuff-up. Victoria’s Labor government used today’s press conference – at which the state’s single new primary-contact case was discussed – to launch the most searing attack so far. “This is a race, and as a nation we’re falling behind,” said Acting Premier James Merlino, before going on to criticise everything from a lack of clarity around second-dose supply to the lack of a public health campaign, even going so far as to suggest that the federal government had not developed a campaign because it didn’t have confidence in being able to match demand. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was keen to distance herself from the latest supply issues, albeit without overtly criticising her federal colleagues, while announcing a single “fleeting contact” case and the introduction of masks on Sydney public transport. “The GP network needs more doses and is craving more doses,” she said. “I can’t control the doses of vaccine we get, and I can’t control the vaccines we get. That is another government’s responsibility.” Monday’s national cabinet meeting should be interesting – the one following the previous change to AstraZeneca advice certainly was, with Guardian Australia reporting state leaders raised concerns about allowing those aged 50-plus to receive it. Questions are now being raised over whether this was why Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk received the Pfizer instead of AstraZeneca vaccine, with the 51-year-old premier sticking by her dog bite/Olympics story.
Meanwhile the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, thanked the states and territories for adapting their vaccination programs to yesterday’s advice (like they had a choice). He also announced a new Medicare subsidy for over-50s for vaccine consultations with GPs, aimed at counteracting some of the panic created by yesterday’s announcement, as reports emerged of some people cancelling their second appointments despite being told it was safe to go ahead, and GPs fearing the advice may have been a “fatal blow” to public confidence. Standing beside Hunt, Chief Nursing Officer Alison McMillan attempted to reiterate the importance of getting vaccinated, pointing out that the risks for over-60s of dying from COVID-19 are much higher than from any AstraZeneca-related clots. But where, oh where, is that public health campaign? The federal government today announced it will grant $1.2 million to multicultural organisations to deliver targeted vaccine information to their communities, with research finding hesitancy remains higher among people who speak a language other than English. But there remains no major national ad campaign like the one experts have been calling for.
Merlino may have a point about the federal government not wanting to increase demand while supply is so limited, especially when demand for Australia’s limited Pfizer doses has just gone up by approximately 2.1 million people, or 4.2 million doses – perhaps even more, depending how many over-60s now also demand Pfizer. (UNSW infectious diseases expert Mary-Louise McLaws is today calling for millennials to be prioritised.) But while state governments are demanding more supply from the federal government, and the federal government is demanding more from Pfizer (Hunt claims he has asked the pharmaceutical company to speed up delivery), it’s not likely that supply is going to increase significantly for some time. General John Frewen – who this morning briefed the newly returned prime minister, remotely – acknowledged there would be “a likely temporary reduction in daily vaccination rates” in the “short term”, due to the limited amount of Pfizer available, and promised it would pick back up again soon. That dip should do wonders for Australia’s already internationally embarrassing vaccination rate – at the current weekly rate, Australia won’t hit the WHO target of 60 per cent coverage until around October 2023, according to Nine’s vaccine tracker. Better hope that end-of-year sprint is a fast one.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke uses an ABC article about Australia Day, written by two Indigenous women, based on the national Australia Talks survey, to argue that the ABC isn’t representative enough.
Australia backs coal as the G7 pledge climate action
As the leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies gathered to discuss climate change, the Australian government chose to reiterate its commitment to fossil fuels. Today, Rachel Withers on how the Coalition is increasingly out of step with both the international community and voters at home.
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Premiers have taken aim at the federal government over the latest vaccine rollout setback, with even Liberal leaders keen to clarify that the worsening supply issue is a Commonwealth stuff-up. Victoria’s Labor government used today’s press conference – at which the state’s single new primary-contact case was discussed – to launch the most searing attack so far. “This is a race, and as a nation we’re falling behind,” said Acting Premier James Merlino, before going on to criticise everything from a lack of clarity around second-dose supply to the lack of a public health campaign, even going so far as to suggest that the federal government had not developed a campaign because it didn’t have...
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