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A third of elderly Victorians and almost half of over-50s have not been vaccinated, as tensions over supplies come to a head between the states and the federal government.
An emergency national cabinet meeting was held on Monday as state leaders pushed for greater clarity on the expected volumes of doses.
It came in the wake of official advice that Australians aged 50-59 should not be given AstraZeneca, further increasing pressure on stocks of the Pfizer alternative.
For the first time, the federal government told the states how much vaccine they could expect to receive until the end of the year under a best and worst-case scenario, although the projections were not publicly released.
Covid-19 Taskforce Commander Lieutenant-General John Frewen said the nation’s precious Pfizer stockpile had to be carefully managed for at least another month until more doses arrived.
“We are still in a resource-constrained environment,” Mr Frewen said. “But on current forecasts, we are looking forward to ramping up availability of Pfizer through August into September and into October.”
That’s not soon enough, according to Acting Premier James Merlino, who had his strongest swipe at his federal counterparts, pleading for more supply during winter.
Mr Merlino blasted the rollout as a mess, calling on the government to acknowledge it was a “race”.
“That’s the one job of the Commonwealth government – supply of the vaccine. We want to see a sense of urgency.”
Mr Merlino said Victoria couldn’t approach Pfizer directly but added: “If we could, we would do it in a heartbeat.”
The Commonwealth increased the number of doses allocated to Victoria from 71,370 a week in June to 83,070 in July, while an additional 200,000 will be sent to GPs.
An extra 150,000 Pfizer doses are also being sent to Victoria throughout June and early July, amid an outbreak that led to a surge in people wanting to be inoculated.
The state’s Covid-19 boss, Jeroen Weimar, said Victoria was “more than capable” of maintaining that momentum.
“If more Pfizer were to be available to Victoria … We can put them in people’s arms now,” he said.
But only two thirds of Victorians over 70, almost half of those over 50 and about a quarter of people aged over 40 have had their first dose.
Mr Weimar pleaded with vaccine-hesitant Victorians to “engage with the discussion” around getting vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is self-isolating in Canberra, said the country remained on track to offer every eligible person in Australia a first dose by the end of the year.
Originally published as Victoria’s damming vaccine numbers