NEWS THAT MATTERS

Vaccine rollout is a race, it always was

With millions of Australians in Covid lockdown, and Sydney desperately trying to get the Covid Delta strain under control, it is clear that Scott Morrison has bungled the vaccine and fixing rollout and fixing the nation's quarantine system. But that doesn't mean the situation is irretrievable.

From a race to the back of the vaccine queue - no 'V' for victory, just two digits for Scotty.

2 August 2021

ALAN HAYES

 

THERE are several actions that could be taken right now to get the troubled Covid vaccination program back on track and clear the way for a return to normal life.

 

Firstly, Australia should reach out to its friends in the United States to seek access to vaccine surpluses.

 

Last year, as drug companies began developing vaccines, the US moved quickly to secure contracts for six different ones.

 

By contrast, the Morrison government has delivered only two vaccines - too slowly. The government had its first talks with Pfizer in July last year, but the Prime Minister did not finalise an order until November, when the company had already committed more than one billion doses to 34 nations.

 

Instead, he put his eggs in the AstraZeneca basket.

 

With Australia at the back of the queue, the chickens are coming home to roost.

 

Mr Morrison also promised that 51 million doses of a third vaccine - Novavax - would be delivered in the second half of this year.

 

But the nation has now been told that the vaccine, which has not yet been cleared for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, will not arrive in Australia until 2022.

 

So as millions of Australians cry out to be vaccinated, there simply isn't enough vaccine available.

 

Indeed, about 19 per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated, compared to 49 per cent of Americans and 54 per cent of people in the United Kingdom.

 

It's time to talk to our American friends.

 

They have Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to spare.

 

The vaccination problem is further exacerbated by the mixed messages, leaving little trust in our governments. It was not that long ago that the health message was adamant - AstraZeneca for over sixties only.

 

Now as Gladys Berejiklian drowns in her own politicking, coming as close as she ever has on Sunday morning television (1 August) that her Government has made bad decisions with the Delta lockdown, she tries to convince the 18 to 40 year olds that the new health advice, that they can safely use AstraZeneca, is the way forward. Maybe it is, but who knows with all the mixed messages between the State and Federal Government. But one thing we all do know, it is important to get jabs into everyone’s arms. But how do you now get people to trust you when the goal posts keep moving or a different ball is being kicked from different sides?

 

And as the Berejiklian Government races to get Sydney’s hot spots vaccinated, what about the Central Coast? We need a mass vaccination centre to get jabs into arms, but there just isn’t the vaccine supply available. That’s why the Government won’t open a mass vaccination centre here! The one at Belmont is too far away for most coasties and doctors cannot cope with the demand, and new supplies of AstraZenica will not be available until mid August

 

Today, the Central Coast is lucky that the Delta strain has been confined to the Sydney hotspots. But everyone knows how quickly that could change. So, the Central Coast needs the same priority as everyone else, but that doesn’t seem to be on the Government’s agenda.

 

The Pfizer vaccine, earmarked for the younger working population on the Central Coast is now to be jabbed into the arms of all NSW students, sitting the HSC, in the Sydney hotspots. Why in these troubling times couldn’t this year’s HSC have been based on assessments? Keeping people working and keeping them safe is surely a greater priority to ensure that the economy doesn't suffer further restrictions!

 

What about the future?

 

We must work harder with pharmaceutical companies to develop the capacity to produce mRNA vaccines here in Australia.

 

The Germans took just six months to get Pfizer production up and running.

 

We could have done the same if Scott Morrison had gone to the drug companies last year.

 

Instead, his only action on mRNA production has been to pay millions of dollars to consultants to write reports about mRNA production.

 

That's not good enough. We need local manufacturing capacity now.

 

We'll need it in the future, whatever happens with Covid.

 

Vaccine supply failures mean many aged care and group disability home residents - our most vulnerable citizens - are still not fully vaccinated, despite Scott Morrison having promised they would be by Easter.

 

SCOTT Morrison has also failed to fully vaccinate their carers, along with millions of front-line workers like cleaners, retail workers and delivery drivers.

 

The government has been asking these people to seek vaccination through their general practitioner. But GPs have also struggled to secure supplies.

 

Scott Morrison has also failed to deliver an adverising campaign that gives Australians clear information about the need for vaccination.

 

In one sense it is understandable, if it cannot meet current demand. However, this should not preclude giving accurate information about vaccines and their effectiveness.

 

Instead, Scott Morrison's focus has been to pretend we are "on track'' - or to shift the blame to state governments.

 

Denying there is a problem or trying to spin his way out of it risks compounding those errors. It is a race. It always was. The problem was that Scott Morrison’s hubris and stubborn ineptitude clouded his thinking, clouded his ability to act in the best interests of the nation and to ensure every Australian was vaccinated by 31 March as promised.

Grapevine News Online

Central Coast NSW

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