Enough doses as kids’ program begins: Hunt


Health Minister Greg Hunt insists there will be enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for children aged five to 11 as the rollout for young Australians officially begins on Monday.

Mr Hunt says there will be three million doses available over January for the 2.3 million children who will be eligible for a jab.

More than 80 per cent of Australians aged 12 to 15 have had two doses, he added.

“That’s an important sign as we go into the children’s vaccine program,” Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Sunday via video-link.

But Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said parents are anxious because they can’t get appointments for their children.

Mr Hunt conceded not every child will be able to get there jab on a particular day as practices only have a certain volume because 8000 vaccination points are being provided around Australia.

That is to make sure people in rural and regional areas, non-English-speaking areas and lower social economic areas have the same access.

He said there will be over 6000 general practises receiving child vaccine doses, over 150 commonwealth vaccination clinics, over 115 indigenous medical clinics, 2000 pharmacies and, at this stage, over 250 state clinics that are all participating.

“So multiple options and the orders … are well ahead of schedule,” Mr Hunt said.

“We’re going through record delivery last week and this week in terms of total vaccines and that includes the children’s vaccine.”

He noted some GPs and pharmacies had already started the children’s program on Sunday.

The latest vaccine launch came as a total of 20 deaths were recorded in NSW and Victoria as new COVID-19 cases across the country from the highly-infectious Omicron variant amounted to almost 95,000.

Among the latest people to test positive, is Governor-General David Hurley, who is reported to be experiencing “only slight symptoms”.

“Recent close contacts have been notified. His Excellency is double vaccinated and has received his booster,” a statement from Government House read.

NSW on Sunday recorded 30,062 cases and its highest number of deaths since the pandemic began, at 16 fatalities.

Victoria posted a further 44,155 infections and four deaths.

Elsewhere, Queensland reported 18,000 new cases, Tasmania 1406 and the ACT 1039.

Queensland also announced it will be delaying the start of school year by two weeks as a result of increased virus infections.

“That will have, of course, a further impact on the workforce and a further impact on the economy,” Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told reporters in Ingham, Queensland.