Lieutenant General John Frewen and Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Alison McMillan's press conference on 24 September 2021

Read the transcript of Lieutenant General John Frewen and Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Alison McMillan's press conference on 24 September 2021 about coronavirus (COVID-19).

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JOHN FREWEN: Good afternoon everybody. Today is a major milestone in the vaccine rollout. We now have- more than two-thirds of Australians have had their first vaccination, and one in two of us are now fully vaccinated. Yesterday was also a record day for the rollout, more than 347,000 doses in a single day. And we have now done 2 million doses across the last seven-day period, which is a first for the rollout also. And this puts us amongst the fastest rates in the world. We've now also deliver 26 million doses nationally. And I have now also had receipt from Pfizer of our allocations for October. I have updated the states and territories on those allocations for October, and we will be publishing the revised National Allocations document on the health website today. Thank you.

ALISON MCMILLAN: Good afternoon. So terrific figures as you can hear an amazing achievement, and I give a shout out to every Australian, everyone who is stepping forward and getting vaccinated in these amazing rates. Now we are all should be incredibly grateful and proud of what we are achieving as a country. Each time everyone- anyone gets a vaccine, it takes us a step closer to those things that we've all- are missing for those of us who continue to be under restrictions. So it is again a call out to everyone that now is the time to get your vaccine. There are more than 10,000 places by which you can get that vaccine. So if you don't have that booking, please do go and get that booking or go to one of the facilities that- where you can just turn up on the day. This is not achieved, though, without an enormous effort from all of those health care workers and support workers, transport, logistics, technology, people that are helping our national rollout programme, and we need to recognise the enormous work in the seven days a week that they're working to make this happen. There's a lot to make- we're a big country, and there's a lot to making this happen, and we should remember and celebrate the great work that they are all doing. And that makes it even more important that I, too, echo the message of many, to say that what we saw in Melbourne in the attack of staff working with the most vulnerable in Melbourne to help them with their health care and vaccinations, the attack, both physical and verbal, on those people, on those staff, is completely unacceptable. There is no place for violence in our healthcare system, and we are not, and will not, tolerate violence against our staff. They are to be celebrated and congratulated, and we should show our appreciation. But as I say, no place of violence, whatever your beliefs might be. We're seeing the impact of the rollout now; particularly we're seeing that in New South Wales. We're seeing the numbers slow. We're seeing the benefit now of all of the effort of people in New South Wales and increasingly in Victoria. We're seeing transmission rates slowing. We're seeing the impact of the restrictions on transmissions. So again, congratulations to everyone who stepped up and stepped forward to be vaccinated. We thank you. We encourage those that haven't yet chosen to do that, to do that as soon as you can, because it's important for you, your family and for our country so that we can return to the life that we love. Thank you.

QUESTION: Lieutenant General, could I please ask; what is the revised allocated supply of Pfizer for October? And can you guarantee that there'll be more Pfizer allocated in October than September?

JOHN FREWEN: Yes, there will. We are receiving the nine million doses that we expect in October. That's the assurance that we've had. There'll be nine million doses of Pfizer in each month for the rest of the year. We will get two million doses of Moderna this month, and then we're expecting three million doses of Moderna recurring for the rest of the year as well.

QUESTION: That's the amount arriving, is that the amount that will be allocated to the states in the month of October?

JOHN FREWEN: Yes, we will be allocating per capita as we always do.

QUESTION: And Martin Foley has said that, in Victoria, Moderna will be used in state pop-up clinics. Is that what the 32,000 doses Greg Hunt announced yesterday are for? And will we see Moderna used in other state clinics and even GPs now?

JOHN FREWEN: Yeah. So we worked through the orders and the allocations of Moderna. There was some under-ordering in Moderna. We move that to Victoria at their request with some urgency. We are also offering any under-ordering of Moderna to other states and territories, and we'll be working with them. Now, in some cases, under-ordering will actually be moved to pharmacies where there is additional capacity to move Moderna, but you may well see it in other state's clinics as well.

QUESTION: What was the problem in Pfizer supply that Dan Andrews sort of alerted everyone to on Monday, and can you explain how that has been solved this week?

JOHN FREWEN: Yeah. So normally Pfizer will contact us and provide us with the confirmed monthly allocations on a week by week basis. We were contacted by Pfizer last week and they were only able to provide us with the first two weeks' allocation at that point in time. It was to do with global distribution management issues with Pfizer. They've now come through, confirmed the third week for us, and assured us that we will get our full quota in October.

QUESTION: But why did the figures provided to National Cabinet, though, suggest that there would be 2.5 million fewer allocated in the month of October, despite more Pfizer coming in in the month of October?

JOHN FREWEN: Well at that stage, we only had the first two weeks, and what we received in the first two weeks was half of what we were anticipating in the first two weeks. But as I've said, Pfizer have now said that they will make up the full month's allocation across weeks three, and we expect, week four.

Tom on the phone?

QUESTION: G'day, Lieutenant General. Just on this issue with Pfizer, are you now confident there won't be any other sort of similar issues going forward here; there won't be any delays in notifying states of future allocations and no more interruptions to supply? Have you sought those assurances from Pfizer and have they been received?

JOHN FREWEN: Yeah. Look, the Minister and others have been in touch with Pfizer and have been speaking to those very issues. We, of course, will have to wait for confirmed allocations through November and December. But in October, we will have enough vaccines in the country to fully vaccinate all eligible Australians. So, I've said before, we are now shifting from a period of where supply has been our predominant driver within the rollout, to one where demand becomes increasingly important. So I do encourage everybody now who hasn't yet stepped forward to get vaccinated to please do so. The supply is now increasingly available. We've got more points of presence. The pharmacies have come online now with Moderna and are pumping that through at a great speed. People are now being able to turn up to pharmacies and get same day vaccinations in some areas. So, everything from here on in now is just about the willingness of people to come forward and to get vaccinated.

QUESTION: On that, a few states are now offering choice of vaccine for older Australians, so 60 and over can get mRNA vaccines…


QUESTION: …Is that something that the Commonwealth had to approve before they went ahead and announced that? And what- is it fair that over-60s can have choice of vaccine in some jurisdictions and not others?

JOHN FREWEN: Yeah. So we have conversations at a national level about when we think it would be appropriate to open up to the categories as we have gone. The over-60s, as we have said with other categories, where the states and territories feel that within their current allocations and their capacities, they can open up, we have not opposed that. We've given them the freedom to do that. In the case of Victoria and New South Wales, they have both publicly said that they will not be opening up to the over-60s at this time, and the priority is to the 12 to 15 year olds. I'm also very encouraged that we've had almost 300,000 12 to 15-year-olds get their first dose vaccination inside a fortnight, which is remarkable. It's almost a quarter of that population. So that's been great to see as well.

Okay? Thank you very much.


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