Covid-19 vaccinations will commence today, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison among the first to receive his shot “in order to provide confidence” to people still hesitant.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that the first group of people to receive the jab today is “commencing with two of our aged-care residents, our critical aged-care staff, front-line workers, we also know that the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Nurse and the Prime Minister [will get the vaccine]”.
Initially, the first Pfizer doses were scheduled to be administered tomorrow but the rollout has been sped up by a day Mr Hunt said.
“One of the things absolutely fundamental to confidence is the issue of safety. The essence of safety is a full and thorough assessment.”
“We know that through all of our research that in order to increase confidence, you need a strong belief in safety,” he added, saying that “you increase that confidence, then you have a higher take-up, a higher take-up means higher coverage, and all of these things come together”.
“Many people are worried, has this been too quick? And we have to show that it has been a full, thorough assessment and that we believe in the safety ourselves.”
Each Australian state and territory will manage its own targets and priorities for vaccination rollouts, however, one in five Australian citizens is still hesitant or negative when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine.
Peaceful anti-vaccination protests took place in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday 20 February with multiple people arrested by police in Melbourne after a clash with a small group of “fervent anti-vaxxers” are a “small minority” as hundreds rallied in capital cities across Australia.
Multiple people were arrested at a Melbourne rally on Saturday amid clashes with the police, while protesters also marched through the Sydney CBD and large groups gathered in Brisbane and Adelaide.
Asked about the rally, Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, insisted “fervent anti-vaxxers are really in a small minority”, even though an Australian National University study that found “significant and substantial” increase in hesitancy since the same people were asked about getting the jab in August 2020.
At the same time, no new community cases have been recorded in Australia for over 10,000 Covid-19 tests conducted since yesterday.