Australians over 50 will be ‘mass vaccinated’ with the AstraZeneca jab at special hubs this winter – but everyone else has a much longer wait.
Scott Morrison promised the whole adult population would be immunised by October, but the rollout was totally derailed by the jab’s link to blood clots.
Twenty million doses of Pfizer are on their way but no more help is on the way for younger Australians until at least October.
The prime minister said he ‘would like’ all Australians to get at least their first dose by the end of the year, but made no guarantees.
Scott Morrison (pictured in Perth) is planning to set up mass vaccination hubs in Australia
In a desperate attempt to get the stalled program back on track, he plans to create huge hubs to ramp up vaccinations.
Mr Morrison revealed he has spoken to at least one premier – understood to be NSW leader Gladys Berejiklian – about getting millions of Australians vaccinated rapidly once there is enough supply of domestically produced vaccine in June or July.
Ms Berejiklian has already vowed to set up a hub at the Sydney Olympic Park after criticising the federal government over the slow rollout which has fallen well short of its targets so far.
Initially the hubs will only be able to immunise over 50s because the AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for Australians under that age due to a one-in-350,000 chance of it causing a potentially lethal blood clot.
But Mr Morrison wants everyone to be vaccinated by the end of the year and is planning for a vaccination blitz in the last three months 2021, which will see under 50s are rapidly jabbed with Pfizer to get the country over the line.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has already vowed to set up a huge vaccination hub at the Sydney Olympic Park (pictured)
Some 20 million doses of Pfizer and up to 51 million doses of the Novavax jab – which is still in phase three trials in the US and Mexico and yet to be approved – are due to arrive in Australia after October.
The prime minister put the National Cabinet of state premiers back on a ‘war footing’ to discuss the vaccine rollout every two weeks.
Speaking in Perth on Wednesday, he said he wants to get all Australians vaccinated before 2022.
‘We will have a substantial number of vaccines in the fourth quarter of this year. We would like this done before the end of the year,’ he said.
‘But that will only be possible if we can ensure mass vaccination programs in place that can do that in that space in that final quarter.
‘Prior to that, we will have AstraZeneca vaccines that we believe we might be able to ramp up the pace of vaccination for those aged between 50 and 70. That’s millions of Australians.’
Mr Morrison wants under 50s to be rapidly jabbed with Pfizer or Novavax shots, which are yet to be approved, towards the end of 2021
He added: ‘We have a strong GP network of 4,000 to work the vaccines through. Equally there’s an option to work – and I’ve discussed this with at least one premier – about how mass vaccination could be an option earlier, say in June or July.
‘We want to ensure we can get systems in place, to understand the risks associated with that, what resourcing is required and to be able to direct those programs as a National Cabinet.’
As of Tuesday night, 1,295,672 vaccines had been administered across Australia.
The rollout has been hampered by supply delays due to a European export ban which resulted in 3 million doses not arriving.
The operation then took a heavy blow last week when scientists recommended under 50s should have the Pfizer vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca jab which causes blood clots in extremely rare cases.
The news forced Mr Morrison to order 20 million more Pfizer doses and scrap his aim of vaccinating all Australians by October because they won’t arrive by then.