Date published: 
30 March 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

LAURA JAYES:      

The Courier Mail is reporting there’s been two new COVID cases as part of that cluster in Queensland. Now fresh questions too over the vaccine rollout and whether it should be faster and has been fast enough to protect our front-line workers after a nurse tested positive in the latest cluster. Earlier, I spoke with the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and started by asking her about how many unvaccinated nurses are operating at the moment.

[Excerpt]

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

I can't tell you that figure, the figure about the number of health care workers vaccinated is a figure managed predominantly by the states and territories. And I think if we just take a moment, we do know that there is a nurse who's positive, but we don't yet know where she acquired that infection from and how and if it's linked to this cluster. So I think we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions immediately. Of course, I'm concerned to hear that one of my colleagues is positive, but we need to wait for the genomic testing to understand where this is got- where she got this from.

LAURA JAYES:      

As our vaccination program rolled out, the Government and the Chief Medical Officer made it clear that it was most important to get our front-line health workers vaccinated. Now, we’re five or six weeks into this program; does it concern you that people and nurses and frontline workers are still not vaccinated, still don’t have their first shot?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

I'm really keen and we are constantly encouraging all of our colleagues to get vaccinated as quickly as they can. They can do that through a range of means, either through their programs in their hospitals, through GPS, through GP respiratory clinics. So there are lots of opportunities to get vaccinated, but it is a pretty big population out there that we need to get to. Obviously, those at the front-line were our priority and we're working to get as many done as quickly as we can.

LAURA JAYES:      

Do you have any data on how many front-line workers have resisted the vaccine or haven't yet got it?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

No, I don't have any figures on the numbers that haven't yet got it. It's a very large population. More than 400,000 nurses and midwives who are our biggest population of health care workers across the country. But we do know that they are our priority. There is some evidence of some people being a little reluctant to have the vaccine, and that's fully understandable. We shouldn't demonise people who are hesitant. We need to work with them to give them the best advice we can and reassure them that these vaccines are safe and effective. And I think we will see people take up this vaccine. Australians are- have a great history of being a very positive in taking vaccines for many years. And so like the flu last year, I think we will see an uptake of this in the coming weeks.

LAURA JAYES:      

Do you think that the slow rollout is perhaps taking a bit of that momentum out of the keenness of people to get this vaccine?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

I don't know that it's a slow rollout. It's a staged rollout, where we were always going- we weren't able to do everyone straight away. There perhaps has not been quite that emphasis for people, because until recently, we haven't seen any outbreaks. And to some extent, it's perhaps gone off the radar. I'm sure that this will be motivating people to make that appointment and get their vaccine and we’ll encourage them to do that as we move towards our target, which is to have everyone who wishes to be vaccinated have their first dose by October.

LAURA JAYES:      

Alison McMillan, thanks so much for your time.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Good morning, thank you.

[End of excerpt]

LAURA JAYES:      

Alison McMillan there speaking to me a little earlier.

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