News Politics Australian Politics Victoria’s health minister denies tension with NSW over Pfizer doses

Victoria’s health minister denies tension with NSW over Pfizer doses

Booster shots
Supply is starting to equal demand for the sought-after Pfizer vaccine. Photo: Getty
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Victorian health minister Martin Foley has hosed down the idea of tensions with NSW over a lack of willingness to redirect vaccines to Sydney’s virus-ridden suburbs.

Praising Victoria’s “encouraging” downwards trend in COVID-19 cases on Saturday, Mr Foley said his and other states had “legitimate demands” on scarce vaccines for July and August which had already been allocated to them based on population.

He welcomed recent reports of spare Pfizer doses in the national stockpile and said he’d be happy for those to be sent to NSW.

Mr Foley’s comments followed NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s show of frustration just minutes earlier, in appealing for other states’ help to get more Pfizer doses into the arms of young Sydneysiders.

“I want to remind those other states and territories that last time I looked, we were a ‘Common-wealth’, we work together,” he said.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Victoria would have to balance its own risk in determining whether to give away vaccines.

“It’s clear that the higher the proportion of the Victorian population that gets vaccinated … ultimately it minimises our risk of being hospitalised and dying,” he said.

Prof Sutton said Victoria was “on track” for an easing of restrictions on Tuesday, as scheduled, but would not yet commit to it.

He introduced a new travel designation for NSW late Friday, making the whole state an “extreme risk zone”, backdated to July 9.

This will make it difficult for Victorians in NSW to come home, unless they get a rare exemption or have a Specified Worker Permit.

“It’s very strict in terms of the movement of people across the border,” Prof Sutton said.

Mr Foley was adamant the new risk designation of NSW was not related to Premier Daniel Andrews’ unsuccessful pitch for a “ring of steel” police blockade around Sydney but the natural progression of authorities’ attempts to protect the state against infection.

Red zone designations still apply to the ACT, South Australia and Norfolk Island.

Victoria recorded 12 new locally acquired COVID-19 infections on Saturday, 10 of which were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period. All infections are linked to current outbreaks.

The figures continue the state’s encouraging downward trend in new diagnoses with 14 cases on Friday and 26 on Thursday.

The numbers came with 19,281 vaccine doses administered in the previous 24 hours in Victoria and 39,846 COVID tests conducted.

More than 22,000 Victorians are primary close contacts isolating at home, with about 2500 MCG contacts about to be released from 14 days of confinement.

An apartment block in the Docklands has become one of the latest exposure sites as it is the residence of one of the latest confirmed cases. Residents in the Lacrosse Building must isolate and get tested.