By Julie Owens

15 June 2021

Last week I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. When I tell people about it, I find I get one of two reactions.

Some people say “you’re lucky!”. Others tell me they want to wait and see how the vaccine affects others before getting it themselves.

These two reactions sum up the Morrison Government’s mishandling of the vaccine rollout.

On the one hand we have unacceptable delays.

Scott Morrison promised 4 million Australians would be vaccinated by March – and that all Australian adults would be vaccinated by October.

It’s now mid-June and Australians have only received 5 million doses of the vaccine. Many vulnerable people and workers in high risk industries are still waiting.

Earlier this month the Minister for Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the Morrison Government did not know how many aged care workers had been vaccinated, quoting a figure that could represent less than 10% of the workforce.

Despite this, Minister Colbeck said he was “comfortable” with the pace of the rollout.

I’ve heard from many residents who have been struggling to access the vaccine, and others who are confused about whether or not they are eligible.

At the current rate, it will take at least 11 months to vaccinate 20 million people. Meanwhile, the community is at risk of further outbreaks, more virulent COVID strains and devastating lockdowns.

On the other hand, there has been an alarming rise in ‘vaccine hesitancy’ in the community.

While many people are desperate to be vaccinated, a recent survey found almost one in three Australian adults said they were unlikely to get a COVID vaccine. Most of the people surveyed said they were worried about side-effects for their age group, or that they didn’t know enough about the vaccines currently available.

It is understandable that people will have questions about a new vaccine. But we are seeing increased levels of hesitancy because the Morrison Government is not providing clear public health information in response.

Scott Morrison has said that the vaccine rollout is “not a race”. But it is a race against the virus and new and more dangerous strains.

We need a fast and effective rollout of the vaccine that reaches the most vulnerable Australians – and the people who care for them – first. And we need a strong public health information campaign that explains why it’s important to get vaccinated and where people can go if they have questions or concerns.

Labor stands with the experts who have been calling on the Morrison Government to act for months now. Until they do, we all live with the risk of future outbreaks and lockdowns.

Anyone over 40 can now get the jab in NSW - if this is you, please scan the QR code to book an appointment as soon as possible. If you're uncertain or have any questions, talk to your GP.