Chesters calls on Minister to ramp up vaccine rollout

Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters has today written to the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, calling on the Federal Government to ramp up the vaccine rollout.

“The Prime Minister has promised that “ample supplies” of vaccines would be made available, however many people in our community are still being turned away from GP clinics due to a low supply,” Ms Chesters said.

“Local pharmacists are also ready to go but pharmacies aren’t slated to come on board in the vaccination rollout until Phase 2a of the government’s strategy. We still have 11.9 million vaccine doses to administer before we move to Phase 2a of the rollout. “

“The Federal Government rollout strategy is taking too long.”

“In a normal flu season, there are many vaccination points, such as GPs and pharmacies, who in particular allow easy community access to vaccinations.”

To date, the government has only administered 4.3 million doses. If the rollout continues at the same pace, that means Phase 2a might not begin until October or even later.

“This is a race. The government needs to rethink its vaccine strategy to ensure that more Australians get protected sooner.”

“By giving GPs the vaccine they need and getting pharmacies on board, we can normalise distribution and make access to the vaccines people need easier.”

“Pharmacies have established booking infrastructure and relevant expertise in administering bulk vaccination programs in a COVID-safe way, through flu vaccinations, and we are currently not utilising this effectively,” Ms Chesters said.

The Morrison government is currently keeping back 40 per cent of the vaccines manufactured in Melbourne by CSL.

Today, I have asked the Minister for Health to disclose how many doses the government is holding back in reserve.

“Australian’s deserve to know where vaccines are going and why they are being held back from distribution.”

“Surely it is time for these vaccines to be delivered to the people who need them, especially given the Prime Minister’s commitment for ample supply.”

“People in our community want to get vaccinated and want to help keep each other safe. But time and time again, they are being turned away or forced to wait days or even weeks before being able to get the jab.”

“How long do people in Central Victoria have to wait for “ample supply”?” Ms Chesters said.

Pharmacy Guild of Victoria Committee Member and Bendigo Community Pharmacist Kin Chong has demanded that the Commonwealth Government guarantees supply of the vaccine in regional areas so pharmacists across Victoria can play an important role in helping Victoria reach herd immunity.

“The Commonwealth Government has stated that there are no vaccine supply issues and if this is the case then there is no reason to delay pharmacy access to vaccines in regional areas,” Mr Chong said.

“If there are no supply issues, then let our highly trained pharmacists get on with providing our communities with timely access to COVID-19 vaccines.”