Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is again to the minister for health, and I refer to his previous answer. The minister's comments to the 7.30 program on Thursday night contained no mention of first doses only, so why did the minister use the term 'completed' in response to a question about a two-dose vaccine?
It has been absolutely clear, as we have talked about in question time and in multiple circumstances around the country, that the program we've been undertaking is to conduct the process of vaccinating aged-care facilities, working through first doses and working through second doses. It is absolutely and fundamentally clear, as Professor Murphy, Professor Kidd and Professor Kelly have all indicated in recent days, that the first dose is a fundamentally important part and, indeed, provides a critical protection and that vaccination program, which we have referred to on many occasions, refers to the total number of facilities which had those first vaccinations and second vaccinations. The advice that I have before me, as of last night, was 2,544 facilities have had first doses around the country, or 99 per cent—100 per cent, in those four jurisdictions—
A point of order on relevance: the question was a very specific question in relation to advice the minister gave on Thursday night, not data now but advice about a two-dose vaccine.
To add to that, the advice received from the department shortly before question time was 1,957 facilities, or 76 per cent of national facilities, have had a second dose. And we have at all times drawn the distinction and pointed to the fact we have a two-dose regime. Our immediate task—immediate task—was to set out and ensure that we were on a path to make every facility in Australia had that option of a first dose at the earliest possible time. Now we are at that point where 100 per cent of facilities in four states and territories, Victoria, the Northern Territory, the ACT and Tasmania, have received that, with the remaining four states and territories to have that one per cent gap closed in coming days. An expected 15 of the 20—possibly as high as 17, but at this stage 15 of those 20—are scheduled for the next two days. So, it is a very important thing, as the chief medical officer and the deputy chief medical officer and the former chief medical officer have emphasised, to have the first dose in place.
There's been some discussion—and, indeed, I heard Professor Kelly make some very clear remarks on this front last week—that the first dose is absolutely critical, that it provides the balance of protection.
Opposition members interjecting—
There was an indication that this was unimportant, that this was not a critical thing, and this was a discussion had in question time of last week. So, 100 per cent of facilities across those four states and territories are completed, as we said on Friday, and 99 per cent across the country.