Australia's vaccine rollout already behind schedule as only HALF as many people as expected are immunised in the first week - forcing AstraZeneca jabs to be pressed into service early
- Vaccination program ambling along at half speed with only 30,000 jabs so far
- Federal Government's target had been 60,000 immunisations by March 1
- 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca touch down ahead of domestic production
Australia's coronavirus rollout has only hit half its forecast target of 60,000 immunisation jabs by the end of February.
Just 30,000 people were vaccinated as of Friday according to latest figures released on Sunday, going half as fast as the government hoped.
Those who got the shots included 8,110 aged care and disability residents from 117 care facilities, the national Health Department figures showed.
Gold Coast nurse Zoe Park receives Queensland's first Covid-19 vaccine from clinical nurse consultant Kellie Kenway at Gold Coast University Hospital on Monday
300,000 AstraZeneca vaccines touched down on Sunday. The Therapeutic Goods Administration will now batch test to ensure they meet Australia's strict quality standards
The federal government previously said it hoped to be giving 60,000 injections per week by the end of February.
That way, about four million people would be immunised by early April.
The actual reason for the dramatic failure to reach the target is still unclear.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the arrival of the first 300,000 doses of the AstraZenaca vaccine in Sydney on Sunday would help speed up the process.
The vaccine, developed by Oxford University, was to be administered to its first patients in the second week of March, but was moved up to Monday.
The Queensland Government has issued a 'show cause' notice to Healthcare Australia for a disastrous mistake last week.
The federal government contractor injected two elderly Queenslanders with four times the recommended dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Carseldine aged-care centre, in Brisbane's north on Tuesday.
A healthcare worker gets the Pfizer jab on Monday 23 February at the start of the vaccine distribution. Only 30,000 people have been immunised so far instead of the 60,000 target
Almost 30,000 Australians have been vaccinated since last Monday, including 8110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities
Mr Hunt said the company was put on notice for termination of its contract.
'The CEO has been stood aside after the secretary of the department, frankly, threw the book at them,' he said.
'What we're seeing is very clear process of transparency at a commonwealth level.'
The federal government is responsible for vaccinating those in aged-care homes - even those homes that are owned and run by state and territory governments.
Australia has 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on order.
Fifty million doses will be made in Melbourne through a licensing agreement with pharmaceutical giant CSL - but the first doses are to be imported from Europe.
'We will now be able to scale up the vaccination rollout to our priority groups, including our most vulnerable Australians and to our frontline border and health workers,' Mr Morrison said.
The imported AstraZeneca jabs will be distributed on Monday, depending on the batch passing the Therapeutic Goods Administration's quality testing including to make sure they had been maintained at the correct temperature during the flight.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said 200,000 doses from the AstraZeneca shipment would go to the states and territories.
As the second week of vaccine distribution begins on Monday, a further 50,000 Pfizer vaccines will be sent to the states and territories.
'This is the next step as we ramp up the vaccine rollout,' the prime minister said in a statement.
Those who got the shots included 8,110 aged care and disability residents from 117 care facilities, the national Health Department figures showed
Scott Morrison has announced a Covid-19 milestone, as 300,000 doses of the AstraZenaca version land in Sydney on Sunday
Most Australians will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine with the rollout due to commence from March 8, subject to the TGA's testing process.
'Australia is in a unique position because importantly this vaccine gives us the ability to manufacture onshore' Mr Morrison said.
'Every Australian who wishes to be vaccinated will be able to receive a vaccine this year.'
Australia started its vaccine program last week with the first injections of the Pfizer vaccine.
When will vaccines be available?
It depends on your age, health and job. First in line are the elderly, vulnerable, frontline health workers, hotel quarantine staff, as well as aged and disability workers and residents. That process has already begun.
Other Australians over the age of 16 will be then be ranked by health risk to determine when they get the jab, with those more vulnerable prioritised.
Health Department boss Brendan Murphy has said it's unlikely people will get to pick if they get the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, as it depends on their profile and category of risk.
The government wants the vaccine rollout to be complete by the end of October.
The government is rolling out a second $31 million public information campaign with the Covid-19 vaccination program now underway.
'Both the state and territory teams alongside the aged care in-reach teams are ramping up their operations, with more vaccines being distributed across the country in the next week,' Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
The government's initial advertising campaign launched in January focused on informing the Australian community about the Therapeutic Goods Administration's world-leading independent approval process.
'The second round builds on these safety messages and informs the community about Phase 1a of the vaccination program rollout, which prioritises those who are the most at risk of serious illness from the virus,' Mr Hunt said.
'The advertising is important, so people understand how the vaccination program is operating, how they can find out when it will be their turn and answer any questions they have about the vaccines.'
Hotel quarantine, border and frontline health workers started receiving vaccinations this week, but the government has stressed it isn't mandatory.
Mr Morrison said federal and state health officers were monitoring whether to make vaccinations compulsory for some workers.
'Should that be necessary, we would seek to do that on a nationally consistent basis exercised through consistent public health orders,' he said.
A flying squad of 500 nurse immunisers will be dispatched around the nation to vaccinate aged care and disability residents who are in the initial phase.
Hubs at major hospitals will also be ground zero for the Pfizer drug, which is first cab off the rank.
As the program expands, the extensive network of general practices and pharmacies will join the effort - with over 4,6000 practices already been given approval to administer the jab.
Everything Aussies need to know about the vaccine roll out
* What about Australians under the age of 16?
The Pfizer vaccination approval does not cover people under the age of 16, but it has no upper age limit. The medical regulator says the benefits of the vaccination for people over the age of 85, or those who are frail, should be weighed against potential risk of even a mild response.
Age limits for the AstraZeneca vaccination will be outlined in the Therapeutic Goods Administration's approval.
* How many do we get?
Both vaccines are two doses - so Australians will get two at least 21 days apart. They will need to be from the same company.
* Where will they be administered?
General practitioners and pharmacies have put their hand up to be involved, and there's expected to be pop-up clinics at current COVID-19 testing centres and hospitals.
* How can Australians prove they've been vaccinated?
Jabs will be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register. Certificates proving vaccinations will then be available either digitally or in hard copy. The government says this might be needed for interstate and overseas travel.
* How many vaccines has Australia ordered?
Australia has secured more than 150 million doses of various vaccines, including almost 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the vast majority to be manufactured in Melbourne. As well as more than 51 million from Novavax.
WHICH VACCINES AUSTRALIA HAS SECURED:
20 million doses - enough to vaccinate 10 million Australians
Australia has ordered 51 million doses but it is still in the trial phase
University of Oxford:
53.8 million doses
The Australian Government has joined the COVAX Facility as part of a global effort to support rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. This participation enables us to purchase vaccine doses for Australia as they become available
This includes the Moderna vaccine, CureVac, Inovio and others
University of Queensland:
Australia had ordered 51 million doses. However, the deal has been scrapped after trial participants returned false positive results for HIV