Health Minister defends decision to give greater share of COVID-19 vaccines to NSW

By political reporter Jake Evans
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says extra doses had been brought forward for Victoria when they had their outbreak.

The Health Minister has defended the federal government's decision to allocate greater shares of COVID-19 vaccines to states suffering from outbreaks, saying it has saved lives.

An analysis by 7.30 this week indicated NSW had received a greater share of Pfizer vaccines through the GP network, which is controlled by the Commonwealth, at the cost of Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland's allocations.

That analysis found Victoria may have missed out on 343,000 jabs, and there appeared to be extra weighting of future Pfizer shot allocations to NSW for the remainder of the year. 

Victorian Premier Andrews has since accused the NSW government of using additional vaccine allocations to "sprint" towards its vaccination targets, while leaving other states in an "egg-and-spoon race".

But the Health Minister said the additional allocations were consistent with the national plan agreed to by the states.

"As we've had outbreaks, we've prioritised those areas to save lives," Mr Hunt said. "In particular, we started by prioritising Victoria when there was the Victorian outbreak."

"I hope no-one would begrudge that focus."

But Mr Andrews this morning said it was time for the Commonwealth to rebalance additional allocations that were shared with NSW.

"I signed up to a national plan to vaccinate our nation, not a national plan to vaccinate Sydney," he said.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has also pushed for future vaccine allocations to make up for any disparity.

"NSW received a million extra doses against their population share, while we've received significantly less than WA's share," Mr McGowan wrote in a social media post.

"We have supported this allocation in time of need for NSW, but there should now be a catch-up in vaccines given to other states.

"It's time for us to receive our share of Pfizer [vaccines] in Western Australia. We want a boost in our supply to make up for what we willingly provided to NSW."

PM says NSW's extra doses did not cost other states

Earlier, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said NSW's greater share of vaccines had not come at the cost of other states.

"The argument was being put forward that NSW should take doses from other states. Well, I'll tell you who said no to that, it was me," Mr Morrison told Sky News.

"I wasn't going to have doses moved from other states to NSW. I went out and got more doses, from Poland."

This week, an additional 1.7 million Pfizer doses are expected to arrive from the United Kingdom and Singapore, which Mr Hunt says will ensure all states and territories receive their allocation.

The new doses will be distributed on a per capita basis.

Mr Hunt said all states and territories would ultimately receive their share of the COVID-19 vaccine, but he did not say when discrepancies would be made up.


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