States’ war over vaccine delays continues

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Queensland has less than three days’ supply of the Pfizer vaccine and doesn’t know when the next delivery will be, the state’s chief health officer says.

Dr Jeannette Young was advised on Thursday the state had only three days’ worth of vaccine doses available.

She told reporters on Friday that she was expecting more deliveries, but did not know if they would arrive this weekend.

The Pfizer vaccine has been used predominantly to vaccinate frontline healthcare and quarantine workers.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Thursday said the state was running out of AstraZeneca jabs too, with less than 12 days’ supply.

The federal government has copped flack over its handling of the vaccine rollout, with the slow pace blamed in part for Greater Brisbane’s three-day lockdown.

The two infection clusters that prompted the lockdown both linked back to healthcare workers who became infected at work.

A number of the healthcare workers infected as a result had not received their first vaccine dose.

Four million Australians were due to have their jabs by the end of March, a target missed by more than 3.3 million. 

The NSW government has also criticised the federal government’s rollout after leaked data suggested states were to blame for delays.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the insinuation made him angry, and any delays in delivering jabs were due to the erratic supply the federal government has overseen.

The Queensland government releases the number of vaccinations given each day, and NSW on Friday committed to doing the same.

Both states are pressuring the Commonwealth to be upfront with their numbers too, disclosing the number of doses distributed each day. 

Federal opposition health spokesman Mark Butler also took aim, saying the government had promised Australia would be at the front of the queue for the vaccine, but instead it had found itself in 108th place.

“We are so far behind the rest of the world,” he said.

“The UK has vaccinated 60 per cent of its adult population. 

“We’ve managed about two per cent.”

Barely a quarter of the 2.4 million vaccine doses available in the country had been administered and only a third of aged care facilities had received their first doses, he said.

“Every promise they’ve made hasn’t been met.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday defended the Commonwealth’s vaccine rollout, saying all states and territories will receive doses in accordance with their 12-week plans.

Mr Hunt has blamed a global supply issue, with the European Union blocking some vaccine shipments to Australia due to the country’s low infection rate and rising cases across Europe.

But his colleague, federal minister David Littleproud has blamed Queensland, saying they had administered “three-fifths of bugger all” of the doses they had received, leaving their frontline workers exposed.

Victoria’s health minister on Thursday issued a plea for state and Commonwealth governments to “put aside the swords”, but Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her deputy was right to defend the state.

“We’re not going to stand there and cop people not telling the facts,” she told reporters on Friday.

Dr Young also confirmed the outbreak had prompted a new policy barring anyone who has not received at least their first dose of a vaccine from working with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

She also called for people living with frontline workers to come forward for vaccination.

“We have included you in 1B … because we know even if you have been vaccinated, you still can get the infection and pass it on,” Dr Young said.

On Friday, NSW announced 7000 vaccinations were administered on Thursday, while Queensland carried out 7686 jabs.

Tiffanie Turnbull

Australian Associated Press

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