Coronavirus vaccine: Scott Morrison abandons target for 2021 amid rollout uncertainties

Prime Minister Scott Morrison receiving a COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year. Picture: Getty Images
Prime Minister Scott Morrison receiving a COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year. Picture: Getty Images

The federal government has abandoned the target to vaccinate all Australians by the end of 2021.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Sunday that problems with rollout now meant the 2021 target was "not possible".

"While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved," Mr Morrison wrote on Facebook.

The rollout was thrown into disarray last week when health authorities recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to Australians over 50, after concerns over blood clotting were raised.

No new targets will be set for completing first doses to all Australians, which were originally planned to be completed by October 2021.

Australia's vaccination program has administered 1,166,075 cumulative doses as at April 10, with 27,209 added in the 24-hours to Sunday.

Another 1000 GPs are expected to join the rollout this week, taking the total number to over 4000, Mr Morrison wrote.

"We will just get on with the job of working together to produce, distribute and administer the vaccines as safely and efficiently as possible."

Just hours earlier, Trade Minister Dan Tehan had told Sky News' Sunday Agenda the government's aim is to have all Australians injected with at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of the year, after it had been left up in the air last week.

"That is definitely the aim, that is the goal we have set trying to have all Australians have a dose by the end of the year," Mr Tehan said.

Health Minister Greg Minister insists GPs have not been put off participating in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine because of the AstraZenaca advice. For any doctors concerned about being sued if it was administered to a younger person, he said vaccine indemnity agreements are already in place.

"On indemnity, I want to make something very, very clear," he said.

"Australia already has vaccine indemnity agreements in place. I am saying this on behalf of the government but also on behalf of our legal advice, no doctor need worry."

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Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshild said it was critical for Australia's future that public confidence in the vaccine program be maintained.

"Your GP will give you the best advice about any medicine or vaccine," he said.

Labor has warned that further delays to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout could complicate efforts to tackle mutations.

Mark Butler, Labor's health spokesperson, was concerned Australia won't even be through the first generation of vaccines when other countries are looking at boosters.

"Against the Prime Minister's advice that this is somehow not a race, we think there is a time imperative here," Mr Butler told Insiders on Sunday.

"It's important that we get the current generation of vaccines into peoples' arms so that we are ready for potential booster shots as early as later this year to deal with the variants, or the mutations, that are spreading all around the world."

With AAP

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This story PM abandons vaccine 2021 target first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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