NSW’s Health Minister has pleaded with Australians to line up for the AstraZeneca shot, admitting the country simply doesn’t have enough Pfizer for everyone who wants it.
Brad Hazzard also took a swipe at “mixed messaging” on the AstraZeneca shot, which had led to it being less popular than the Pfizer.
“Simply, there is not enough Pfizer in NSW or anywhere in the two major states – NSW or Victoria – for the people who are now wanting it,” he said on Tuesday.
“We’re certainly asking the federal government to try to get us more
Mr Hazzard’s comments came as NSW confirmed another 1164 cases of COVID-19 and three virus-related deaths on Tuesday.
More than two-thirds of NSW residents have had at least one COVID shot. But authorities continue to plead with the remaining third of residents to book a dose, with fears the state’s devastating outbreak – which has now claimed 95 lives – will not peak until October.
“What I would say is for older patients, for older residents, you can also have AstraZeneca … I’ve got personal friends, family members who have had AstraZeneca. It’s a very good vaccine. It’s saved vast numbers of people right across the world from what is an extremely dangerous virus,” Mr Hazzard said.
“The system in NSW is working as best as it can … [but] health staff at the frontline are desperate to see us all get vaccinated as quickly as possible because if we fail to get vaccinated, we’re putting our families at risk, we’re putting our community at risk and we’re putting front-line health staff at risk.”
Asked how many more Pfizer doses he wanted, Mr Hazzard replied: “A lot. A lot.”
“But at the end of the day, it’s a worldwide pandemic. Let’s get real about this. It’s a worldwide pandemic. The federal government is doing their damnedest to get the vaccines and when they get it to us, we’ll get it into arms,” he said.
“Go and get vaccinated. Not getting vaccinated is self-entitled and indulgent in the extreme in the middle of a pandemic.”
Recommended age ranges for the AstraZeneca vaccine have changed repeatedly since it became available in Australia. The recommendations are related to an extremely rare blood clotting condition linked to the shot.
“Unfortunately, the mixed messaging from the past six or eight months on the vaccines, particularly AstraZeneca, has not been helpful to the broader community’s understanding of how important it is to get vaccinated from any vaccine you’re eligible to get. As Health Minister in NSW I’m extremely frustrated about that,” Mr Hazzard said.
Victorian authorities have also repeatedly pleaded for more Pfizer supplies, as they battle an ongoing COVID outbreak. Premier Daniel Andrews said more than 2.6 million AstraZeneca shots had been administered across the state.
“Many, many have made an informed choice to use this vaccine and to get their double-dose protection as quick as possible and play their part in the race to 80 per cent,” he said on Tuesday.
Shortly after the NSW daily briefing on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced half a million doses of Pfizer vaccine had been secured for Australia in a swap with Singapore.
The 500,000 doses will arrive this week for distribution next week.
“That means there are 500,000 doses extra that will happen in September that otherwise would have had to wait for several months from now,” he said.
He said it would accelerate the vaccination rollout as Australia pursues aims to vaccinate 70 and 80 per cent of its population aged 16 and above.
Tuesday’s announcement is on top of 5.5 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines expected to arrive this month.
Australia will send 500,000 doses to Singapore in December in return.
Earlier in the month, the Morrison government clinched a deal with Poland for an additional one million Pfizer doses.