Vaccine rollout delayed until ‘June 2023’
Four million Australians were supposed to have received their coronavirus vaccine by today.
But with less than 600,000 of us receiving the jab so far and a concerning outbreak in Queensland threatening to derail the nation's winning streak, fears are mounting that Australia's vaccine delays are leaving the population vulnerable to infection.
The national rollout has fallen so far behind schedule the federal government was forced to drastically revise its predictions earlier this month.
"Initial forecasts based on contracted supply volumes indicated that all Australians who wanted a vaccine would be offered their first and second dose by the end of October 2021," a March 14 Department of Health document reads.
"Due to global supply disruptions, supply has been slower than expected."
In fact, according to The Australian, "at the current rate, the most vulnerable will not be vaccinated until June 2023 and the full population not until October 2024".
"Every previous target has been missed and every upcoming target will be missed," reporter Matthew Lesh writes.
The delays come as Queensland emerges as Australia's latest virus epicentre, with a spike in cases plunging parts of the state into a snap, three-day lockdown which now seems likely to be extended through Easter.
Dozens of venues have now been included on alert lists and many states and territories have slammed their borders shut to residents within hotspot areas.
With millions of Queenslanders now confined to their homes, attention is turning to the vaccination program, with the Courier Mail revealing the state had only used 60 per cent of its COVID-19 vaccines, with more than 40,000 sitting idle.
According to the publication, just 65,129 out of the 106,970 doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines received by Queensland have been administered so far.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young issued an order this week preventing unvaccinated hospital workers from coming into contact with COVID-19 patients in a bid to reduce spread, after two health workers caught the UK strain at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Dr Young said this week there had not been enough doses available to put the rule in place earlier.
RELATED: Qld hospital plunged into lockdown
"We had to roll the vaccine out," she said.
"It's just so unfortunate that this outbreak has occurred when it did."
Australia's vaccination rate sits well behind many other nations, with most Israeli citizens already fully vaccinated.
According to the New York Times' global vaccination tracker, 18 per cent of the population of Chile is also fully vaccinated, compared with 16 per cent in the US and 5.5 per cent in the UK.
While the government initially claimed that all willing Australian adults would be fully vaccinated by October, Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid told the Guardian earlier this month that "very ambitious" target would be next to impossible to achieve "if you look at the maths".
He said the end of December would now be a far more realistic goal.
Originally published as Vaccine rollout delayed until 'June 2023'