Health Minister Greg Hunt said the refusal to ship 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines will not affect the vaccine rollout plan to the public.
This is in response to the news that Italy and the EU have rejected the export of AstraZeneca dosage as Australia records lower number of cases compared to Italy and considered as “non-vulnerable” by Italy’s foreign ministry.
Hunt assured Australians this is just one shipment from one country.
“This shipment was not factored into our distribution plan for the coming weeks. Domestic production starts with one million per week of delivers from late March and is on track,” he said.
Australia has allocated 53.8 million does of the AstraZeneca vaccine already with plans to produce 50 million in the country.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Nine Network that the amount of vaccine doses blocked will not negatively affect the rollout plan.
“This 250,000-does issue is not going to affect the rollout,” he told Nine Network.
South Australia has begun the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout as senior doctor Carline Phegan received the first jab this morning.
“I feel very privileged and very honoured to be the first person in Australia to receive it, and I hope I reassure people that it is a safe vaccine,” Dr Phegan said.
The EU delegation to Australia told the ABC that it was in contact with Brussels to mediate the situation and prevent future shipment blockages.
This comes as the EU implemented tighter restrictions on vaccine exports in January after AstraZeneca was unable to fulfill their original shipment numbers to the EU.
There are currently 2.9 million active cases in Italy and 29,000 cases in Australia according to the John Hopkins University website.
Photo: Vaccination by Katja Fuhler available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.