Patience urged as vaccine enters new phase

The federal government insists more Australians will be able to book appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations as the program expands.

Monday marked the first day of phase 1b of the vaccination plan, which will see six million Australians get their jabs.

Phase 1b of the program takes in everyone over the age of 70, along with Indigenous Australians over 55 and younger adults with a medical condition or disability.

Workers deemed critical or high risk can also apply.

Doctors are being inundated with requests for vaccinations, as more than 1000 GPs gear up to take part in the program.

“Appointment availability will increase as the number of clinics grow from 1000 to more than 4000 over the next four weeks, so we thank you for your patience,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Mr Hunt noted Australia had a contract with CSL for 50 million doses of its AstraZeneca vaccine, which meant the country did not need to rely on overseas supply.

Australian Medical Association vice president Dr Chris Moy said he understood why people were so eager to be vaccinated.

“What I would say to everybody is that we’ve got a few months to do this, and just to understand it is going to be a staged thing,” he told the ABC.

“It won’t happen in a day but it will happen.”

Floods in NSW have disrupted some supplies but the vast majority of doctors have received an initial batch of doses.

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the length of the interruption would depend on how quickly floodwaters abated.

Dr Moy said he believed the government’s target of October for Australians to get an initial jab was “reasonable”.

More than 280,000 vaccinations had been provided so far nationwide.

In a small step towards reopening the nation’s international border, Australian Border Force boss Michael Outram said almost half of the officers eligible for a vaccine jab had received one.

“(It’s) an important step we can make towards the future of Australia reopening borders, to help our industry and government partners to provide tourism and boost economic recovery,” he said.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner is the latest political figure to be vaccinated, receiving the AstraZeneca shot on Monday in a bid to boost confidence in its safety.

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