The New South Wales government has again complained that it is not being told key details about the commonwealth’s vaccine rollout, including which of the state’s aged care facilities have begun immunisation, plans for the potential involvement of the military, and when aged care staff might be immunised.
The federal government has faced criticism on multiple fronts for the lack of communication surrounding its vaccine distribution program. General practitioners, some aged care facilities, and the NSW government have complained that the lack of information from the commonwealth is frustrating their planning efforts.
On Wednesday, the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said the state government had become aware that staff in aged care facilities were not receiving the vaccination.
Hazzard said he has been given no explanation as to why staff were not being immunised, or when they might be.
He had also not been told which of the aged care facilities in the state had been visited by federal vaccination teams.
“I have no doubt that the federal government will in due course give us the information that we need to continue our planning for the rollout across the state, but we are looking forward to getting information from the federal government as to the precise numbers of people who have been vaccinated in our aged care facilities,” Hazzard said.
“And indeed we are looking forward to understanding which aged care facilities have actually had their teams in there vaccinating the residents. As we understand it, they’re not vaccinating at the moment – even the ones who attended – the staff in those facilities, so we’re looking forward to seeing a program from them going forward of which staff will be vaccinated, when they will be vaccinated.”
Hazzard also said he had not been made aware of plans to use the ADF to help with the vaccine rollout, a plan that was reported in the media on Wednesday.
“That was not something I, as health minister, was aware of, but I look forward to receiving that information in due course from the federal government.”
The state is expecting by today that 15,000 residents will have been vaccinated, and the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout is expected to begin on 10 March. The majority of the state’s 6,500 quarantine workers have been vaccinated.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is to be administered in Hornsby and St George. Regional vaccination hubs will be set up in Nepean, Newcastle, Wollongong, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga hospitals.
The federal health minister, Greg Hunt, announced on Tuesday that Australia had received its third shipment of the Pfizer vaccine. That adds to the 300,000 AstraZeneca doses received on the weekend.
NSW is leading the way in the speed of its vaccination program, while Victoria and Queensland have fallen behind.
The success led the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to announce on Wednesday the state would bring forward vaccinations for those in the next phase of the national rollout.
That means it will begin vaccinating those in phase 1b of the national rollout, including remaining healthcare workers. Families of quarantine workers and airline crew – also part of phase 1b – will be vaccinated.
The state will also simultaneously continue phase 1a of the vaccine rollout.
“The NSW government believes strongly that we merge those two categories to get the vaccine out as soon as possible,” Berejiklian said.