More doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be sent to Australian states and territories shortly, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, as authorities seek to prevent additional delays in an immunisation push that has met multiple stumbling blocks.
Australian states have asked for extra vaccination supplies after Australia issued a policy adjustment last week that advised AstraZeneca (AZN.L) injections for individuals over the age of 60 due to clot concerns, throwing the rollout into chaos.
“They are all getting additional doses … it scales up again in July when the additional Pfizer (PFE.N) doses go out,” Morrison told radio station 2GB on Monday. Morrison did not specify the number of shots each state would get.
Australia’s nationwide vaccination programme missed several initial targets due to patchy international vaccine supplies while changing medical advice on AstraZeneca doses further slowed down an already sluggish programme.
Only 4% of Australia’s adult population of 20 million have been fully vaccinated while more than 25% have had at least their first dose.
To accelerate the rollout drive, the federal government plans to distribute around 2.3 million doses of Pfizer vaccine in June to the states and territories, and looks to ramp it up to 3.4 million through July.
Australia has to rely on overseas shipments for its Pfizer shots while the AstraZeneca ones are produced locally.
Morrison has summoned a meeting of the national cabinet, a gathering of federal, state, and territory officials, for Monday, three weeks earlier than planned, due to the upheaval in the country’s immunisation programme. The next meeting was set on July 9.
The government’s offer of additional doses for states comes as New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populated state, battles a new epidemic that expanded to nine cases over the weekend.
On Monday, Victoria reported one new locally acquired case connected to an existing cluster, while Queensland reported no new cases after reporting one new infection on Sunday. NSW is scheduled to release its most recent figures later on Monday.