Yesterday, Canberra again promised that we’ll be vaccinated by Christmas. Yet, three months into the rollout and only 1.9% of NSW has had both doses.

 

 

“I am not going to be talking about numbers today,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told Australia’s Radio National on April 12. This echoed suggestions from the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who had adopted the position that Australia best forget meeting any clear vaccination targets.

Speaking through The Sydney Morning Herald, the government yesterday spoke of vaccination targets, claiming that we’ll all be vaccinated by Christmas. Again. Or not. Gallingly, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) put it on us, claiming that everyone who wants to be vaccinated probably will.

So, let’s talk about numbers. Three months into the vaccine rollout (which is a responsibility of the Federal government, let’s not forget), and some truth has wriggled out from underneath the permafrost of bullshit, as the WA government has inadvertently released the figures we weren’t mean to see, illuminating the expanse of their failure.

In New South Wales, 1.9% of the population has been fully vaccinated. In Victoria (which had numerous lockdowns) they’ve managed to inoculate a paltry 1.6%

 

 

The above table represents those who have had two doses. An October deadline had been proposed for all Australians wishing to be vaccinated to receive at least one dose. Prior to that, the government had dreamily suggested a target of 4 million vaccinated Australian adults, with all remaining adults being finished by October.

As The Big Smoke reported, “Pre-rollout, Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested the rollout capacity will start at around 80,000 doses per week and increase from there. That’s 16,000 a day (over five-day weeks), well short of the required 200,000 a day. The planned peak capacity hasn’t been announced, but even back-of-the-beer-mat calculation would suggest a minimum of 167,000 vaccines per day to give two doses each to 20 million Australians in the eight months between March and October 2021. The longer it takes to reach such capacity, the higher that daily number will get — or we will not reach the target vaccination percentage this year.”

On April 8, Morrison emphasised, “uncertainties” and “many, many variables” that doomed any coherent planning. “This is not a certain world and we’re not on our own. The whole world is dealing with the same uncertainty.”

Is it though? Over in New Zealand, they’ve managed to give both doses to 9% of their entire population. What’s more, they’re actually exceeding their vaccine targets.

 

 

Conversely, in April the Prime Minister announced that Australia had secured a further 20 million Pfizer vaccine doses, in addition to current orders for 20 million. He tried to distract critics by noting that 170 million doses of vaccines in total, spanning deals with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax and COVAX, had been secured. In case you’ve blocked it out of your memory, these are the vaccines we’ve paid for, but have yet to arrive.

Last week, the program took another shot, as it became known that the commonwealth health department managed to vaccinate half of Australia’s aged and disability care residents it said it would. The kicker is that they were first in line, and purportedly, would be entirely vaccinated after the first six weeks.

As journalist Christopher Knaus noted, “A key area of responsibility for the federal government is vaccinating aged care staff and residents who are both in the highest priority group for vaccinations – phase 1a. Initially, the government said it had planned to complete phase 1a within roughly six weeks of the program’s commencement on 22 February. That included vaccinating 190,000 aged and disability care residents and 318,000 aged care and disability staff.”

With a week to go before the end of the original deadline, they managed to vaccinate 99,000 of the nation’s most at-risk citizens. A Senate inquiry noted that deaths in aged care homes “account for 74.6% of all deaths from Covid-19 in Australia”.

Back in March, the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) have issued a joint directive, warning members they risk disciplinary action for providing ‘false or deceptive’ advice or information that could undermine the national vaccination program.

The directive states: “Any promotion of anti-vaccination statements or health advice which contradicts the best available scientific evidence or seeks to actively undermine the national immunisation campaign (including via social media) is not supported by National Boards and may be in breach of the codes of conduct and subject to investigation and possible regulatory action.”

This is fair enough, you don’t need medical professionals undermining the national vaccine rollout, because the repeated failures of the program already does the heavy lifting.

As Dr Sarah Russell put it, “There have been three areas of major failures during the Covid-19 pandemic: hotel quarantine, aged care, and the vaccination rollout. These are all areas of Commonwealth responsibility.

“Experts warned the federal government that a pandemic with potentially devastating consequences was coming. CSIRO, for example, alerted the government of the likelihood of a pandemic due to the growth in the global population and international travel. They also warned about the dangers inherent in the incursion of human settlements into wildlife habitats, the live animal trade, and modern livestock management practices. Scott Morrison not only failed to coordinate a national approach to quarantine and aged care but he and his colleagues sat on the sidelines providing unhelpful commentary. Rather than show leadership, Federal Ministers chose to politicise the pandemic.”

 

 

 

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