Lieutenant General John Frewen's interview on the Today Show on 13 September 2021

Read the transcript of Lieutenant General John Frewen's interview on the Today Show on 13 September 2021 about coronavirus (COVID-19).

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KARL STEFANOVIC: Children will be the focus of the next stage of our rollout. From today, 12 to 15-year-olds able to book their shot as Pfizer seeks approval for 5 to 11-year-olds.

ALLISON LANGDON: Joining us with more is Lieutenant General John Frewen who oversees the rollout and he is joining us live from Woden in the ACT. Very good morning you to. How soon could kids as young as five …

JOHN FREWEN: [Talks over] Hi guys.

ALLISON LANGDON: … join the rollout, you think?

JOHN FREWEN: Look, the science is still being worked around that there isn't an approved vaccine for kids of that age just yet. We're excited about the 12-15-year-olds being able to get their bookings in from today. But the best way to protect those younger kids now is for those around them to be vaccinated.

KARL STEFANOVIC: How will kids, if it gets approved, are they going to be able to get them at school, do you think?

JOHN FREWEN: Yes, so for the 12 to 15s, they'll be able to go through all of the available pathways at the moment. So, GPs, we'll have pharmacies up from next week with Moderna vaccine, the new mRNA vaccine that we're getting, or through state hubs. So, it's just a matter of getting on to the eligibility checker, which is updated and open now for 12 to 15s and seeing what bookings are available.

KARL STEFANOVIC: It would be easier if they were just done at school, wouldn't it? I think a few parents have said that. How does that sit with you?

JOHN FREWEN: Yeah no, we're working with the states and territories. That's - in some of the states and territories, there are programs like that that are getting developed. Also, there have been groups of kids, some of the older kids, Year 12 kids, have been bussed to vaccination centres for example. So there's a whole range of options that are being developed out there. It's really up to the states and territories.

ALLISON LANGDON: And as you mentioned, Moderna to be available for those over 12 from next week. You can get that at your local pharmacy and no booking is required. This sounds like it's going to be something that is quite popular with families. Is there enough supply to meet the demand for that, do you think?

JOHN FREWEN: Yeah, as of- we were expecting 1 million doses of Moderna this month, we're now expecting two because of that additional Moderna that's been secured by the Government which is great. And then in October, we'll have 3 million doses have Moderna, in November there's another 3 million doses of Moderna. So, we think there's going to be plenty available through the pharmacy network and again, we're really excited about the pharmacies coming on board with the mRNA.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  Okay. Some breaking news just at hand now from Victoria. The state has recorded 473 new local cases. I guess that reinforces, doesn't it, Lieutenant General, the importance for those vaccinations in the state. I also note 400,000 jabs will be sent directly to Victoria to help with the outbreak. Is that enough?

JOHN FREWEN: Yeah look, we've been working closely with the Victorian authorities through the weekend on this response. There's a surge effort, a blitz, I think it's been described as down there, we're working to get those vaccines to them very quickly. Of course, there is a lot of vaccines already working their way through the system. We've got, this month, there'll be 9million Pfizer vaccines. We've just talked about the 2 million Moderna doses. There's still a lot of AstraZeneca being administered as well.

So, we're really at a point in the rollout now where supply isn't the constraint. We've got almost 10,000 points of presence where people can get vaccines across the country. Really now it comes down to people stepping up, getting their bookings in and getting the vaccine done.

ALLISON LANGDON: That's interesting to note that supply is not the issue now. We heard from Daniel Andrews that one of the problems they're now facing is getting staff and has asked for the Commonwealth to step in. Is it possible to provide that for Victoria?

JOHN FREWEN: Look, we'll work closely with them of course. I haven't seen that specific request. But we are providing workforce around the country in certain situations. We've worked with a number of the states and territories to get priority workforces done. We've worked in food distribution hubs, for example. So, we'll, of course, look at any requests.

KARL STEFANOVIC: The Premier Dan Andrews a little bit miffed yesterday that he wasn't told about the 400,000. How does that sit?

JOHN FREWEN: Look, we've been engaged with the state authorities all weekend on this. So, we've been working closely with them.

ALLISON LANGDON: So, when you say state authorities, who are you speaking to exactly from the Victorian Government?

JOHN FREWEN: Yeah, well I work with my counterparts down there. There's a number of individuals who lead the vaccine rollout program. So, I work with them. I know the Minister has been working with his counterpart down there. So, we're closely engaged and as you've seen, there's been a very rapid response this weekend to provide support to Victoria.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Sounds like they need to talk to each other a little bit more. Lieutenant General, appreciate your time today at the start of another important week for the country. Thank you.



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