Vaccines not exempt from NSW disruption

The federal government is talking to freight and distribution companies over how the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will be impacted in rain-lashed NSW.

Australia’s most populous state has been struck by heavy rains and flooding which is blocking roads.

“Clearly there will be expected disruptions for many freight and logistic movements across NSW as a result of these floods. Vaccines will not be exempt from that,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.


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“So we are working with our freight and distribution companies who are getting the vaccine from point A to point B to just understand about what will be impacted”

Vaccines ready for the phase 1b rollout – for people over 70, Indigenous Australians over 55, those with a medical condition or disability, and workers deemed high risk – are supposed to have been delivered across the country by the end of the weekend.

More than 250,000 virus jabs have been administered in Australia, a long way off the four million Prime Minister Scott Morrison said would be completed by the end of March.

Doctors say the federal government should have tempered expectations of a fast COVID-19 vaccine rollout, as they reassure patients they will get their jabs.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said the government should have been clearer with the public that 6.5 million people would not be able to get their jab in the first week when the country only has 200,000 doses.

There were nine overseas acquired cases recorded in Australia on Saturday: one in Western Australia, three in NSW, four in Queensland and one in South Australia.

However, Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy is optimistic about the outlook, as long as most of the population is vaccinated.

“I think life will return to normal but I think we have just got to be patient,” Professor Murphy told Sky News.

While the vaccines are safe, he says there are still a number of things that are now known about them, such as how long the protections will last, how good they are against variant strains of COVID-19 and whether people will need booster shots every year, like a a normal flu jab.

But he does expect the vaccine rollout will allow for a reduction of all restrictions and ensure state border closures aren’t needed any more.

“As we get more and more Australians vaccinated and as more and more countries around the world get vaccinated, we will start to progressively look at what sort of border and quarantine measures we have to do,” Prof Murphy said.

“We might think about, for example, reducing the length of quarantine, more home quarantine … our risk tolerance will change over the second half of this year.”

But he still believes it “does not look good” for international travel until next year.

© AAP 2021