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Calls grow for faster booster jab rollout

Calls grow for faster booster jab rollout
Photo: Calls grow for faster booster jab rollout
New daily COVID-19 infections have again skyrocketed across Australia's two most populous states as calls grow for booster shots to be sped up.

Additional federal payments to GPs and pharmacies of $10 per booster jab will be provided to bolster Australia's rollout as NSW and Victoria record a combined 7720 new daily infections.

"Basically, what it (the payment) does is reverses the cuts that were in place for the funding of booster doses relative to the funding of the second primary dose," Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Trent Twomey told ABC TV on Thursday.

"This is not about making money. This is about putting on enough staff that have enough resources to be able to replicate what is being done in those big vaccination hubs."

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has not yet made a decision about whether to shorten the gap between second and third vaccine doses from five months, to three or four.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is keen for the time frame to be cut.

"Quite clearly, all the medical advice from overseas and the experience that we have is that it should be," he told the Nine Network.

"And I am sure that ATAGI will come up with that recommendation."

Mr Albanese also thinks Australians will inevitably be required to have a booster jab to be considered fully vaccinated, something ATAGI is also looking at.

Western Australia has forged ahead with adding boosters to the state's existing jab mandate for workers.

National vaccine rollout coordinator Lieutenant General John Frewen insists the country has enough doses, even if there are hiccups with distribution.

"There's right now more supply than the requirement," he told ABC TV.

The country has 20 million jabs and about a quarter are in fridges at GPs, pharmacies and state hubs.

More than half of Australians eligible for a booster have received one.

Meanwhile, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has recommended strongly masks be worn indoors.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison supports this, but insists people don't need to be made to wear a mask.

Mandates remain in the remit of states and territories. Victoria is the latest jurisdiction to strengthen its requirements and will require masks at all indoor venues outside the home.

Meanwhile, the AHPPC is set to report back to Australia's leaders within a fortnight about recommended national definitions and requirements for virus contacts.

It's also preparing advice about the use of traditional clinic and at-home rapid antigen tests as cases continue to climb and people rush to meet pre-travel testing requirements.

The NSW government is looking at mailing households free rapid antigen tests after reporting 5715 new daily infections and one more death on Thursday.

There are also suggestions it's considering whether to make unvaccinated residents foot the bill if they require hospital treatment for COVID-19.

This has been condemned by health experts including the Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners.

"This is the whole basis of being a civil society. We do look after the most vulnerable," its president Karen Price told ABC radio.

Victoria recorded 2005 new daily COVID-19 infections and 10 additional deaths, while there were 26 new cases in Tasmania.

There were 369 new cases in Queensland and 85 in the ACT.

South Australia on Wednesday recorded 198 new infections while there were five in the Northern Territory.

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