Australia

The Morrison government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout missed key targets, major review finds

An auditor-general’s report has criticised the previous coalition government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout for missing key targets.
The report said while about 90 per cent of the eligible population were vaccinated by the end of 2021, the rollout was not implemented effectively.

None of the five timeline targets set by the government were met, including the rollouts to aged care, the vulnerable and Indigenous people.

“Initial planning was not timely, with detailed planning with states and territories not completed before the rollout commenced,” the report said.
“Health underestimated the complexity of administering in-reach services to the aged care and disability sectors. Further, it did not incorporate the government’s targets for the rollout into its planning until a later stage.”

While it was hoped aged care residents would be vaccinated by the beginning of April 2021, second-dose vaccine clinics weren’t completed until June of that year.

The report also said the initial stages of the rollout were “heavily reliant” on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
AstraZeneca jabs made up about 80 per cent of doses allocated to vaccine sites in the first 12 weeks of the rollout, before a change in health advice saw other vaccines recommended.
Health Minister Mark Butler said the report demonstrated the previous government’s failures.
“It’s clear the former prime minister was more interested in getting jobs for himself than getting jabs in arms,” he said.
“For much of 2021, Australia had one of the slowest vaccine rollouts in the developed world.
“Australians languished in lockdowns, workers couldn’t go to work and students couldn’t go to school because the former government failed to do its job and roll out the vaccine.”
The report said the federal health department’s implementation had been “partly effective” due to vaccines being delivered with minimal waste, but the delivery to priority groups did not meet set targets.

“The vaccine rollout to residential aged care and residential disability were both slower than planned, and the vaccination rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has remained lower than for the Australian population,” it said.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s response to the pandemic was an example to the rest of the developed world.
“It was a very difficult time. It was a very unusual time. It was a very extraordinary time that tested every sinew and fabric of government,” he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
“Sure, it’s tough still, but they know what the alternative could have been. So I’m very proud of what Australia was able to achieve over that period.”
The auditor-general recommended improving data quality and conducting a comprehensive review of the rollout in order to do better in the future.
The health department has agreed to both recommendations.
As of Wednesday, the total number of COVID-19 infections recorded nationally has reached almost 9.85 million.
The death toll from COVID-19 in Australia stands at 13,026, including 67 on Wednesday with 58 of those in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
Latest 24-hour COVID-19 data across Australia:
Victoria: 4732 cases, 15 deaths, 518 in hospital with 29 in ICU
NSW: 8064 cases, 26 deaths, 2115 in hospital with 52 in ICU
Queensland: 3082 cases, 17 deaths, 439 in hospital with 19 in ICU
Tasmania: 487 cases, one death, 66 in hospital with four in ICU
WA: 2405 cases, four deaths, 283 in hospital with eight in ICU
SA: 1458 cases, two deaths, 210 in hospital with seven in ICU
NT: 163 cases, no deaths, 40 in hospital with two in ICU

ACT: 425 cases, two deaths, 136 in hospital with two in ICU.

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