Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout has been likened to ‘The Hunger Games’ with states desperate for increased supplies to further bolster jab rates.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday used the popular series of dystopian books and movies to describe the immunisation program.
“It is almost a sense now of ‘The Hunger Games’, of people chasing vaccine,” he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
“Until we get enough vaccine and enough GPs actually at the front line able to provide that vaccine into arms, we will continue to have effectively The Hunger Games going on here in NSW.”
With AstraZeneca only recommended for people aged over 60, limited Pfizer supplies are preventing the rollout’s immediate expansion.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt believes a record week of doses being administered is a strong indication the rollout can gather momentum.
“In relation to vaccines, it is the most competitive global environment imaginable,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.
The federal government expects to deliver 682,000 Pfizer doses to NSW in July, up from 400,000 in June.
Queensland is slated for an increase of almost 200,000 to 430,000 doses in July.
In the sunshine state, almost 140,000 people have registered to receive a Pfizer jab but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned it could be October or November before shots were administered.
“That is when all the supply comes in from the federal government,” she said.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Mr Hazzard’s description was apt as he criticised the federal government.
“They are responsible for the supply of vaccines, they are responsible for rollout in aged care, responsible for the COVID-19 safe app,” he told reporters in Toowoomba.
“Everything they have had responsibility for has been botched.”
Australia is due to receive a total of 40 million Pfizer doses along with 10 million of the yet-to-be approved Moderna vaccine this year.
While just 9.1 per cent of people over 16 are fully vaccinated, Mr Hunt pointed to an “incredible result” of 880,000 doses in the past week.
“That shows the distribution system is working. It’s a global challenge. Australia is part of it,” he said.
Victoria’s COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar described restricted vaccine supply as hugely frustrating and the reason why the state hadn’t extended its rollout to under-40s.
But he stopped short of Mr Hazzard’s reference to a contest to the death.
“We’re not using bows and arrows yet so I wouldn’t go there immediately,” he told reporters.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has identified an 80 per cent vaccination rate to reopen international borders, while business leaders want firm targets for reopening.
Scientific modelling is underway to determine vaccine thresholds under a four-stage plan to end lockdowns and border restrictions.
The medicines regulator is also considering an application from Pfizer to have its vaccine used in 12 to 15-year-olds amid concern about the highly contagious Delta variant.
Mr Hunt said on Monday he didn’t want to pre-empt a decision from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.