What we learned, Thursday 15 April
Health authorities investigate death of NSW woman who developed blood clots after receiving Covid vaccine
The president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, has met with the prime minister, Scott Morrison, in Perth to discuss how to get public confidence back on track following issues with Australia’s slow Covid-19 vaccination rollout.
Khorshid said the issue was not a lack of mass vaccination centres, it was a lack of supply, which meant that even if those centres were established, there would be no stock to supply them. He also said there were not enough doctors and nurses to staff mass centres.
However, it is important to note the UK and US have both attributed the success of their rollouts to a combination of clinics and mass centres delivering vaccines, on top of mobile units of nurses and other qualified health staff going directly to the vulnerable.
Khorshid said that when he spoke to Morrison, he told him GPs must lead the rollout.
We’ve underlined a critical role of general practitioners in the rollout, they’re already administering the bulk of the vaccines, right now, as of today in this country. And they’ve got heaps of capacity to administer more, as long as they can get access to those vaccines.
Khorshid added that the most vulnerable would prefer to be vaccinated by their own GP.
I think the best availability for vulnerable Australians right now is actually in general practice. They have thousands of practices to choose from and that number will increase availability of appointments will improve. So I don’t think it’s likely we’re going to see our most vulnerable population, our elderly, in mass clinics.
The AMA needed to get public confidence in the vaccine program back on track, he said, adding that Australia had two safe and effective vaccines in AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
That’s what needs to be fixed, by showing Australians that all our governments are working together to make sure this program delivers the vaccine in a safe way and as quickly as we can. We are one small country in a very big world, and we do not have the right to take vaccines off other countries who are having severe Covid outbreaks and which are experiencing thousands of deaths every day.
Labor has called on the Australian government to “continue to support Afghanistan’s peace process and development” after the announcement that the 80 remaining Australian troops will leave the country by September.
The Morrison government’s withdrawal plans are in line with the Biden administration’s announcement about US troops.
Labor’s defence spokesperson, Brendan O’Connor, has issued the following statement in response:
Labor today thanks all who have served and are currently serving in Afghanistan following today’s announcement of the withdrawal of our troops.
We acknowledge those who have fought and those who have lost their lives in the Afghan conflict, which has had an Australian presence for almost two decades.
As minister for home affairs I saw first hand the important role the Australian defence force played in building civilian capability when I visited Tarin Kowt in 2010 to be briefed on the AFP training of Afghan national police.
Labor expects the Australian government to continue to support Afghanistan’s peace process and development.
The Queensland health minister, Yvette D’Ath, has urged the federal government to give it more information on how it intends to staff and fund mass vaccination clinics, warning she would be “very hesitant” to use the states own health workers.
The federal government has signalled that it wants to work with states and territories to set up vaccination clinics in the fourth quarter of this year.
But D’Ath said such a move would be pointless without greater supply certainty.
Until we have lots of vaccine, there’s no point setting up mass vaccination centres. So when we get that extra 20m Pfizer, that would be the time when we go out with mass vaccination centre. But it’s really for the commonwealth to tell us how they want to run those.
We’re open to partnering with them, but they really need to tell us how they funded and how they will be resourced, because you have to find the workforce to do it. I would be very hesitant to pull health workers out of our hospitals to run the mass vaccination centres, because I need them.
Partnering with GPs and pharmacists may be an option, but ultimately this is a question for the commonwealth.
D’Ath said the state understood it would be getting more Pfizer vaccine but that there was little information on how much and when.