Avoiding the “lottery of death” should be enough to motivate Australians to be vaccinated against COVID-19, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says.
After spending the day rejecting criticism of the sluggish scheme, Mr Hunt on Friday afternoon again appealed to Australians to roll up their sleeves.
Proposals such as lotteries to incentivise vaccination were constructive Mr Hunt said, but ultimately shouldn’t be necessary.
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“The strongest reason is to avoid … the lottery of COVID and avoid the lottery of death,” he told reporters.
“The number one reason to be vaccinated is it can save your life and the life of your family and friends.”
Mr Hunt also pushed back against claims some people were waiting to get vaccinated because the federal government had given them the impression there was no rush.
“That’s false, that’s not something I’ve ever said,” he told Seven.
However, the prime minister has commented on many occasions the vaccine rollout was not a race.
And Mr Hunt last week suggested older Australians concerned about the AstraZeneca jab could wait until the end of the year to receive alternative vaccines instead.
He later backtracked on the comments.
Mr Hunt on Friday insisted the vaccine program so far was an “extraordinary achievement”.
Thursday was a record day for vaccinations, with 41,000 doled out in Victoria alone.
Twenty per cent of the country’s adult population would soon have received at least one dose, he said.
That’s a milestone the government hoped to reach in March.
Only 500,000 people – about two per cent of the population – have been fully vaccinated with two doses.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly also defended the scheme, stressing the importance of receiving even one dose and lauding the vaccine as the country’s “ticket out” of the pandemic.
“Zero doses give you no protection. One dose gives a very good protection quite quickly,” he said.
The pair’s renewed pleas for eligible Australians to line up for the jab comes as Victoria endures its fourth lockdown in 15 months.
The state recorded four new locally acquired cases on Friday, bringing a cluster of Melbourne infections, sparked by a hotel quarantine breach in Adelaide, to 30.
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino and Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten have both apportioned blame to the federal government for the outbreak.
Canberra is resisting widespread calls to financially back Victorian workers affected by the lockdown – the first without the JobKeeper scheme.
© AAP 2021