Date published: 
6 April 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

DANICA DE GIORGIO:         

Joining me now live to discuss Australia's vaccine rollout is the acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd. Professor, appreciate your time this morning. Individual community chemists will now not be administering jabs until June. What does this mean for Australia's vaccine targets?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

Well, that's always been the aim with the rollout of the vaccine through pharmacies. So pharmacies are coming on as we move to phase 2 of the rollout, and that's not commencing- or scheduled to commence until the middle of the year. In phase 2A, we'll be rolling the vaccine out to people by age groups, we'll be starting the over 60s and the over 50s.

In the meantime, of course, we continue the rollout for phase 1B for older people and people with serious health concerns. This week, we'll actually be doubling the number of sites across Australia where people can receive their vaccine by the end of the week. There'll be over three thousand general practises and Aboriginal health services delivering the vaccines. And also we have the mass vaccination centres, the GP-led respiratory clinics. There are well over a hundred of those right across the country, which are already delivering many thousands of doses of the vaccine.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:         

The Pharmacy Guild is calling for mass vaccination hubs like stadiums. It's certainly worked overseas. Will it be considered here to help aid in our rollout and get the rollout back on track?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

So, as I say, we already have mass vaccination centres through the GP-led respiratory clinics. In addition, the states and territories are all in discussions with the Commonwealth about how best to meet the needs of their own local populations, to make sure that nobody is missing out on the opportunity to receive these vaccines, particularly as we roll out phase 2 in the second half of the year. So nothing is off the table at this moment.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:         

Okay. Let's talk about the figures itself. The last update we had was on Friday, about 841,000 Australians had been vaccinated. How many people were vaccinated over the weekend?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

So we're still compiling those details, we did have clinics operating on both Saturday and Monday, and a huge thanks, Danica, to the tens of thousands of Australians who are involved in delivering this vaccine to the people of our country, and people who during the holiday weekend actually went to work and were delivering vaccines. We'll get an update on those numbers as they're compiled over the day today. And they'll be announced at some stage over the coming few days by Minister Hunt.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:         

Okay. Do you have a figure on exactly how many vaccinations have taken place in that 1A group? Because this was the priority, this covered all health care workers, those considered vulnerable. Do you have a total figure of 1A?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

So at the moment, the figure that we have is the total for both 1A and 1B, and that from Friday was over 840,000 doses delivered.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:         

Professor, we're quite far behind our own schedule at the moment. We are lagging behind the rest of the world. What do you think that we can do to improve our situation with the rollout here?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

Yes, so as you're aware, the plans and the timetable were revised at the end of January when it started to become very clear that we were going to have problems with international supply of vaccine. And we were scheduled to have received over 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from overseas by now, which have not arrived in Australia because of the problems with shipments that we've seen happening here and in other parts of the world. Fortunately, as you know, the CSL facility has come online. There are 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which have been produced by the CSL facility. Many hundreds of thousands of doses have already been through their batch testing and distributed out to the vaccination sites. And of course, many of them are already in the arms of people who've been vaccinated.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:         

All right. I want to ask you about blood clots. What's the advice to people who are susceptible? Should they be receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine or the Pfizer vaccine?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

So at the moment, we are still working with the authorities overseas to determine the exact extent of any link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and this particular condition, the thrombocytopenia with thrombosis, which has been reported. Very important to put it in perspective, this is something which is being reported from overseas in one to two people per million people receiving the vaccine. Of course, the risk of death from COVID-19 is one to two per hundred when we have outbreaks of COVID-19. So we are continuing- we've continued to work over the weekend with the authorities in Europe and the UK, where the AstraZeneca vaccine has largely been used and where most of the clinical experience exists. We'll be meeting again with the UK authorities over the next 24 hours. And the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation will be meeting this week to provide further advice. We do have updated advice on Health.gov.au on the reports from the ATAGI. And also we have updated the consent form on Health.gov.au so that people are informed about the chance of this side effect which is being reported, and of course can make an informed decision about vaccination, which people need to be doing every time they're being vaccinated for anything or taking any medicine.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:         

Okay. Professor Michael Kidd, thank you for joining me this morning.

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

Thanks, Danica.

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