Aus to ramp up Covid vaccinations from July

Australia will ramp up the availability of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine after further limiting access to the AstraZeneca jab, a top official said here.

Addressing a press briefing here on Monday, Vaccine rollout coordinator and Royal Australian Navy Commodore Eric Young said that 136 vaccination centres will be administering the Pfizer vaccines by the end of July, up from 22 currently, as more supply becomes available, reports Xinhua news agency.

Coordinator General of Operation Covid Shield, Lt. Gen. John Frewen, said in the same press conference that at the moment they were still in a resource-constrained environment.

“But on current forecasts, we are looking forward to ramp-up of availability of Pfizer through August into September and into October,” he said.

A meeting of the National Cabinet was held by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday to discuss the ramifications of the decision to restrict access to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Australian government announced earlier in June that the vaccine would be made available to people aged 60 and over on the recommendation of the technical advisory group on immunisation, rather than those aged 50 and over as was previously recommended.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the updated advice was based on new evidence demonstrating a higher risk for the very rare TTS (thrombocytopenia syndrome) condition in the 50-59 age group.

According to Hunt, AstraZeneca remains recommended for those aged 60 and over based on the much higher risk of illness and death from Covid in this age group, and the lower risk of this condition.

“All states and territories agreed to prioritize Pfizer appointments for people aged 40-59 and Phase 1a and 1b eligible people under the age of 40 years of age,” Morrison said in a statement after the meeting on Monday.

As of Tuesday morning, there has been 30,356 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Australia, with 910 deaths.