By Rachel Clun
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Australia will not need the AstraZeneca vaccine after October except by request, as most Australians over the age of 60 are expected to be vaccinated by then.
From October to December, 27.6 million doses of Pfizer will be delivered to help immunise the population against the coronavirus, with Commonwealth modelling showing the AstraZeneca vaccine is unlikely to be needed in the last quarter of the year.
The national vaccine rollout plan released on Wednesday afternoon reveals the locally made AstraZeneca vaccine will be phased out of use in Australia except by request after health authorities changed advice to limit its use to people older than 60 due to concerns about a rare blood clotting disorder.
COVID-19 Taskforce Commander Lieutenant-General John Frewen said he expected all people eligible for AstraZeneca to be vaccinated in the coming three months, but for anyone who still needed that vaccine later in the year doses would be made available.
“For all of those people and cohorts that AstraZeneca is preferred, we think they will have received their AstraZeneca, before the fourth quarter,” he said on Wednesday afternoon.
The government’s “COVID vaccinations allocations horizons” document was first shown to state and territory leaders in Monday’s national cabinet meeting. Public health experts have said more data transparency is needed to help boost vaccination rates and increase confidence in the rollout.
The federal government’s modelling, released by Lieutenant-General Frewen on Wednesday, shows the likely minimum to the likely maximum number of doses states can expect each week to the end of the year.
In July and August, up to roughly 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca will be distributed across the country to state hubs and GP clinics each week. GPs and state clinics will also receive a maximum of 750,000 doses of Pfizer a week in that period.
Deliveries will increase in September, dubbed “Horizon 2”, with up to about 1.2 million AstraZeneca, 1.3 million Pfizer and 125,000 Moderna doses distributed each week across the nation.
From October, up to 2.3 million doses of Pfizer will be used across the country each week, and a maximum of 614,000 Moderna doses could also be distributed.
At a state level, Victoria’s weekly vaccine allocation to state hubs and primary care will be a maximum of 633,000 AstraZeneca doses and up to 177,000 Pfizer doses per week in July and August. That will increase to a limit of 315,000 AstraZeneca, 317,000 Pfizer and 30,000 Moderna in September, and then a maximum of 570,000 Pfizer and 148,000 Moderna each week from October.
NSW will go from a maximum of 900,000 AstraZeneca and 240,000 Pfizer doses per week in July and August to a top of 450,000 AstraZeneca, 430,000 Pfizer and 43,000 Moderna in September, and then a maximum 770,000 Pfizer and 212,000 Moderna per week from October.
Lieutenant-General Frewen said the plan was flexible and would change as needed.
“The forecasts that are in there will be revised regularly as we get variations in both supply, and we may get variations in the medical advice around the guidelines for the particular vaccines, but that at the moment is the best forecast that we can provide,” he said.
The vaccine delivery forecast does not however reveal when vaccinations will open up to younger age groups.
“This is a document purely around the available supply and the planning parameters that allow the states to plan within those ranges,” the Lieutenant-General said.
Across the country to date more than 6.86 million doses of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca doses have been administered, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in question time on Wednesday afternoon.
“That means 49 per cent of those that are over 50 years of age have been vaccinated. Over 66 per cent of those over 70 years of age have been vaccinated,” he said.
Opposition health spokesman Mark Butler said the country still deserved more data about the vaccine rollout.
“We still for some reason don’t have good data from the government about how this vaccine rollout is progressing compared to the sort of stuff you see overseas as a matter of course,” he said.
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