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National vaccination revamp plan expected today

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A plan to bring forward COVID-19 jabs for Australians aged 50 and over and proposals for state and territory mass vaccination sites are expected to be unveiled today.

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The prime minister will meet with the premiers and chief ministers for national cabinet, which reached an in-principle agreement on changes to the vaccine rollout at Monday’s meeting.

While GPs will continue to be the main delivery point for vaccinations for people aged 50 and older, states and territories are considering options to supplement the rollout through expanded state vaccination centres.

As the program topped 1.7 million jabs on Wednesday, there has been broad concern about the speed of the rollout and vaccine supply shortages.

An inquiry heard this week only 6.5 per cent of disability care facility residents have received their jab, despite them being included in the first priority group of the vaccine rollout.

Victoria has moved to boost the initial phase with a number of large facilities, including Geelong’s former Ford factory, providing AstraZeneca shots for anyone over 70 with or without bookings as part of phase 1a and 1b of the national rollout.

Queensland says it won’t shift to mass vaccination centres until bulk supplies can be guaranteed, which it does not expect until the final three months of the year.

Trade Minister Dan Tehan is in Europe for talks on fast-tracking supplies of vaccines ordered by Australia, but yet to be delivered.

The hold-up on deliveries, as well as public concern about AstraZeneca vaccine links to blood clots, have been blamed for the slowness of the rollout.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, being imported and made by CSL in Melbourne, is being diverted to use in the over-50s group, while Pfizer will be used in the younger cohort.

The Australian Medical Association says national cabinet should take specific action to reset the vaccination program.

These included improved distribution of the vaccine to GPs, adjustments to the Medicare system, better explaining of the vaccine benefits to the whole community, and a greater role for the states and territories in administering the Pfizer vaccine.

-AAP

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