COVID-19

‘Hard work’: Vaccine boss’s frank admission

Covid-19 taskforce commander Lieutenant General John Frewen on Wednesday conceded it would be “hard work” to boost the jab figure from 70 to 80 per cent. “On the current projections, it is possible to get to 80 per cent this year, but the variable here is people and people‘s preparedness to get vaccinated,” General Frewen told ABC Radio. “The numbers look encouraging, but … watching overseas experience, getting from 70 to 80 is hard work.“So I’m not going to, you know, be sort of complacent or count those chickens just yet.”The vaccine targets are at the heart of the government’s plan to reopen the nation. The promise of greater freedoms has been a key driver of the state and federal governments’ plea to get vaccinated. General Frewen said early indicators were “very encouraging”, but there was still a small part of the community that would not get vaccinated. “They’re showing that more than 80 per cent of the population tend to get vaccinated, and then there’s still another group making up their mind and a very small group who are saying they won’t get vaccinated,” he said. It’s expected, on current projections, that Australia will reach the 70 per cent target in October. Under the national plan, restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals will be eased. The government has insisted every Australian will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine by mid-October. It comes as the taskforce turns its attention to reducing inequality in the vaccine rollout amid criticism of the pace of the vaccinations in Indigenous communities. The government on Tuesday announced it would put aside $7.7m in funding to help boost take-up rates and address hesitancy and misinformation. General Frewen said the issue was his top priority. “We‘ve consolidated this list of 30 priorities now and we’re about to go after it in a comprehensive way,” he told ABC Radio. “We’ve got to close that gap. We’re looking at things like additional doses, additional funding. We’re getting additional staff into some areas where we’re getting visits from the Royal Flying Doctor Service into sort of areas that haven’t gotten scheduled just now.“We’re looking at … lots and lots of communications because the hesitancy is one of the most significant things through many of those communities and it’s taken root. “And it’s hard to shift but … we’ve got to get the right local leadership, you know, pushing the vaccination message and we’ve got people to understand this is urgent and they’ve got to protect not just themselves but their communities.”

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