CANBERRA – Prime Minister Scott Morrison has detailed his plan for all Australians to receive coronavirus vaccines by October.
In his first speech at the National Press Club in 2021, Morrison said on Monday that the vaccine rollout will be one of the biggest logistical challenges in Australian history.
Under the rollout plan he said that every Australian will be offered the opportunity to be vaccinated by October.
“We strongly encourage all Australians to get vaccinated,” he said in the speech in Canberra.
To help achieve the goal Morrison announced 1.9 billion Australian dollars (1.4 billion U.S. dollars) in funding as the new support for the vaccine roll out.
“This will be one of the largest logistics exercises ever seen in Australia. We will be vaccinating more than 25 million people, having secured over 140 million doses, enough to cover the Australian population several times over,” Morrison said.
Pfizer’s vaccine, of which Australia has acquired 10 million doses, will be the first to be administered from late February.
Besides, Australia has secured 53.8 million doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, 50 million of which will be manufactured locally by biotechnology company CSL.
Another 51 million doses from Novavax will be made available later in 2021 pending clinical trials.
However, Morrison said on Monday that even when the vaccine rollout is completed there will be “no let-up” in Australia’s three vital suppression measures, referring to the country’s international border restrictions and quarantine system, high rates of testing, contact tracing systems and management of outbreaks in localized hotspots, physical distancing and sound hygiene practices.
In addition to detailing the vaccine rollout the PM also used the speech to again rule out extending coronavirus economic stimulus measures, saying the government was focused on economic recovery after record spending in 2020.
“Our task now is to continue our economic recovery by sticking to our Economic Recovery Plan and, importantly, exercising the fiscal discipline necessary to ensure that we do not overburden future generations,” Morrison said.
The JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme is set to end at the end of March despite calls for it to be extended for industries hit hardest by Australia’s international border closure.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier in January pleaded for a JobKeeper extension “for these industries that are doing it tough.”
“There’s about, from memory, 10,000 businesses here in the tropical north that are on JobKeeper at the moment and that’s going to have a huge impact on employment, especially when JobKeeper ends at the end of March,” she said.
“So what we’re asking for is a helping hand during this hour of need.”