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Emergency vaccination teams, larger Pfizer deliveries key to vaccinating young people sooner

The National COVID Vaccination Plan, quietly published on the Department of Health website on Tuesday afternoon, highlighted differences in eligibility criteria across jurisdictions as a challenge, as they could lead to confusion.

Right now, supply remains an issue. To date, 12.8 million vaccines have been administered across the country, and just under 4.2 million people are fully immunised.

The federal government wants Pfizer vaccines to be available to those in their 30s through GPs and pharmacies across the country, as well as mass vaccination hubs and drive-through clinics from later this month and into September, according to the plan.

“The main reason for not opening up all cohorts to the available mRNA [vaccine] right now is really around public expectation of filling up booking systems, and people not being able to realistically access the stuff in a reasonable period of time,” General Frewen said.

The federal government hopes to open access to people aged 16 and over by October. For now, those currently not eligible for Pfizer can speak to their GP about getting AstraZeneca, General Frewen said.

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Younger people, while less at risk of severe outcomes, are more likely to catch and spread the virus. Evidence from Australia and overseas suggests they bear the brunt of infections.

Professor Ivo Mueller, joint head of the Population Health and Immunity Division at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said we should be careful not to blame young people for spreading the virus.

“They are the most mobile. They have the most contact with people outside their age group. Older people are mostly meeting with older people. It’s in that 20-to-40-plus group where really, these people are the connector. They are having children, they are in the workforce, they are moving a lot, they are connecting a lot,” he said.

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“I don’t think that’s being irresponsible – that’s just being younger.”

General Frewen remains confident any Australian wanting a vaccine will be able to have at least one dose before the end of the year.

“I’ll make sure that everybody gets a dose by Christmas, I’ll make sure that we put everything in place that we can to get to 70 [per cent] as fast as we can,” he said.

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