NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has derided the federal Health Minister’s warning that mass vaccination won’t lead to the borders opening as “the biggest load of rubbish I ever heard”.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt cautioned last Tuesday that international borders could stay closed even if all Australians were vaccinated.
“That’s the biggest load of rubbish I ever heard,” Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday.
“The vaccination program will change our lives. The vaccination program will allow us to live with COVID in a better way.”
Asked if she had communicated her views on Mr Hunt’s statement to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Ms Berejiklian responded: “That’s a private matter for me.”
The NSW government has pushed for a more flexible vaccine rollout, and particularly for vaccination of over-50s to be brought forward.
She said on Tuesday that 2.9 million of the six million adults in NSW were over 50. The health advice is for those under 50 to get the Pfizer over the more plentiful AstraZeneca vaccine because of clotting risks.
“That’s still a lot of people to get vaccinated,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The government has flagged plans to widen Australia’s vaccination to program, bringing forward eligibility for all adults over 50. That plan is likely to be confirmed by national cabinet on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Mr Hunt said he expected Australia to hit 1.7 million vaccinations by the end of the day.
“That’s a six-fold increase in total vaccinations in four weeks since the GP rollout, or phase 1B, began. So that acceleration which was predicted has occurred,” he said.
“When you think of 1.7 million Australians having been vaccinated, that is an extraordinary achievement. [But there is] more to come, more to do. And that’s where national cabinet comes in.”
Ms Berejiklian also waved away concerns that a positive test for an Auckland airport worker could burst the trans-Tasman travel bubble.
A manageable “case or two” should not impede the opening up of borders, she said.
A “managed outbreak should be dealt with and life moves on”.
NSW vaccinated 3881 people in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, bringing the total number jabbed by the state to 177,733.
Three new cases were diagnosed in hotel quarantine in the same period.
Investigations are continuing into how the virus jumped between adjacent hotel rooms at the Adina Apartment Hotel at Sydney’s Town Hall earlier in April. No further transmission has been identified, NSW Health.
One COVID-19 patient continues to be treated in intensive care.