Australians were never expected to have two COVID-19 doses before the end of 2021, Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck says.
The development comes as Moderna has also announced it will supply 25 million vaccines doses to Australia under a new supply deal.
Confusion continues over the vaccine timeline after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday handed down the federal budget, which was based on the assumption that a “population-wide vaccination program” would likely be in place by the end of the year.
“The assumption is that every Australian who wants to get two shots of the vaccine [will be able to] by the end of the year,” Frydenberg said.
But Colbeck said the government aspired to get everyone who wants a vaccine their first dose.
“For it to be two doses, you will have to bring that forward significantly and that’s never been part of our plans … because there was 12 weeks between doses,” Colbeck told ABC’s RN.
“So I don’t see where that suggestion comes from.”
Under a new supply agreement announced by Moderna on Wednesday night, Australia has secured 25 million doses of the mRNA vaccine.
This includes 10 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine against the ancestral strain to be delivered in 2021, and 15 million doses of the company’s updated variant booster vaccine candidate to be delivered in 2022.
Moderna is yet to apply for approval from Australia’s drug regulator but says it expects to submit an application shortly.
Scott Morrison said first doses would support the vaccine rollout later this year among people aged under 50.
The prime minister said the government was trying to bring forward the rollout of additional Pfizer doses into the third quarter, while five million people could get Moderna, which is due to arrive in the fourth quarter.
“There is then another 15 million of what is called booster doses,” Mr Morrison told 6PR.
“That is a different vaccine again, that is next year, and that is to deal with possible variants.
“We are now well in the phase of what is coming next because the pandemic is not going anywhere.”
Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers accused the government of playing catch up.
“What has been obvious to everybody else is that the government didn’t do enough deals to get the vaccination program going as well as it should be,” Dr Chalmers said.
“That has costs and consequences for the vaccine rollout and therefore for the economy.”
Outspoken crossbench Senator Jacqui Lambie told Today the Moderna announcement came out of nowhere.
“I’m still trying to work out how I can lie that I’m under 50 … so I can get the Pfizer shot,” she joked.
Mr Colbeck said about 80 per cent of the aged care sector, excluding the workforce, had now been vaccinated.
“We’ll have all aged care residents having had their first dose in the next couple of weeks,” Mr Colbeck said.
He said advice from the US recommended against vaccinating workers and residents at the same time because it affected care delivery.
This came on top of health advice about blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Mr Colbeck said prompted authorities to “reset the workforce rollout”.Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]