House debates

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Vaccination

2:08 pm

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to numerous reports today of Australians eligible for COVID vaccinations who are unable to book online, are unable to get through to their GP clinic or are turned away when they do. Gawler Medical Clinic Practice Manager Kate says: 'Our hands are tied. Our clinic and others are thinking about pulling out of the program altogether because of the stress it's putting on our staff.' Why did the Prime Minister focus on the announcement of his booking system but fail on the delivery?

2:09 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm delighted to inform the House that in fact we have now passed 22½ thousand vaccinations—yesterday, in one day. We saw a 10 per cent increase in vaccinations in that one day. In addition, with regard to the launch of phase 1b, I'm also particularly pleased to be able to say that yesterday there were 381,000 people who visited the vaccine eligibility checker, that we've had thousands of bookings around the country and that we are on track for over a thousand general practices to begin next week. As part of that, there will be approximately 250,000 vaccines made available for the general public, 150,000 for the states and then 100,000 for a combination of aged-care and other frontline and emergency service workers. In particular, it's important that there was a 98 per cent rate for people being able to get through, on their first attempt, to the vaccine information and location service, and almost all of those who sought to do so were able to do so on a second attempt. So 381,000 people were able to successfully connect yesterday.

Importantly, today we've added over 100 Commonwealth vaccination clinics. These are what are called general practice respiratory clinics. They've been doing the testing for the nation and, as of next week, they will also be doing the vaccination for the nation. Bookings for those open tomorrow. Bookings for general practices are, on the basis of the individual practice, already occurring or will be occurring in the coming days.

As we've done throughout the pandemic, we've laid out the plan and made sure that it's available. We've done this in relation to testing, to PPE, to ventilators—always planning and always preparing. What we've seen so far is a very heartening first-day surge of people who are interested—381,000. I think that that is immensely heartening. I want to thank our GPs. They have been the heroes of the nation over the last year, along with our nurses, our pathologists, our aged-care workers and our other health workers.

So the simple answer is not only are we prepared; in terms of the doses to be delivered to those general practices, the advice I have is that, by the end of today, 870-plus of those practices will have received them and, tomorrow, over another 300 will have received them. The goal was to ensure that, by the end of Saturday, all of the practices have received them. We may well achieve that tomorrow. So, in terms of the rollout of those materials, we're ahead of schedule, on track and on plan for saving lives and protecting lives.