Record day for vaccinations in Victoria, as Labor leader calls for new advertising campaign
There are warnings of “significant delays” at vaccination centers in Victoria after computer systems crashed this morning.
According to the government website, some Melbourne hubs wait longer than five hours, but outside the city in places such as Bendigo, some only have a 15-minute wait.
Victoria’s chief of coronavirus testing, Jeroen Weimar, said technical issues this morning caused “disruption” but were resolved at 10:30 am.
He said people were “welcome” to show up, but should check the official website for the latest wait times.
He said the call center was taking a “record” number of calls.
He said the level of around 20,000 a day can be maintained for the coming weeks, compared to the vaccines they have in stock.
“We want to maintain this intensity,” he said.
“We cannot go as fast as the vaccine supply allows us.”
He said he was “frustrated” that some staff were unable to log into the new computer system at two vaccination centers.
But he said they won’t be launching an online reservation system for people yet.
“We will launch the online portal when we are convinced that it will be a good option for people.”
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley has told people not to give up on going to the vaccination reservation line and maybe try again later.
He reminded people that they can also contact their GP about the reservation, and others should join the vaccination program.
About half of the vaccines given yesterday were Pfizer and the other half AstraZeneca.
More than 21,000 people were hit yesterday – as the age range was widened to include people aged 40 to 49.
This is despite complaints from people struggling to get through the telephone reservation line, and some have been turned down when they went to try and get one in person without an appointment.
The Royal Melbourne Hospital, which operates one of the largest hubs at the Royal Exhibition Center, told people not to show up today without a reservation.
The federal government gives the vaccine to people living in nursing homes and homes for the disabled, while states and territories cover the rest of the population.
The director of epidemiology at the Doherty Institute, Professor Jodie McVernon, said today’s figures were a welcome sign.
“We are all familiar with anecdotes over the past few weeks of empty vaccination centers,” she told Today.
“The vaccines are there and the Commonwealth has made more vaccines available to Victoria as well.
“So this expanded recommendation is great, and obviously the concern about COVID itself is a reality in Victoria right now as we deal with this latest outbreak and work towards this latest lockdown.”
Acting State Prime Minister James Merlino said the lockdown might not have been necessary had more people been vaccinated, with the state and federal governments facing constant criticism of the deployment and their refusal to set new goals after abandoning previous benchmarks.
The total number of vaccine doses administered across the country is 4,031,539, according to the Australian government.
NSW also distributed its highest number of vaccinations so far yesterday – a total of 14,119.
But Professor McVernon said there is no “magic number” of vaccinations to be done.
“We need a more nuanced and mature discussion,” she said.
“It takes a high level of vaccine coverage for the spread of COVID to reach very low levels that we believe could be manageable without the need for lockdowns and other measures.
“But as more and more people in the population get vaccinated, that level will slow the spread.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese today called for a public campaign to educate the public about those vaccinated.
“We need an appropriate public information campaign to encourage vaccinations,” Mr. Albanese said.
“We haven’t seen anything, we still see more advertisements for Harvey Norman in a day than what we see for the vaccine rollout and people to be vaccinated than we have seen in a year.”
“This virus is not something we cannot lock up in the Australian fortress and wait for the storm to pass. It’s with us, ”she said.
“It’s around us in the world.
“As we become more confident in our ability to control the disease, and as we eventually expand our borders and reconnect with the outside world, the infection will be there.”
She added that opening vaccinations to 40-49 year olds, when most people who die from the virus are older, was “encouraging” as they are more “socially active”.
Only half of the over-70s in Victoria have been vaccinated, it was revealed, with many elderly care homes across the state not having received vaccines earlier this week.
More places visited by people infected with the virus across the state have been added to the list of exhibition sites, which has more than 100.
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“We saw how quickly these exhibition venues stacked up and they were all over the Melbourne metropolis and the regions,” she said.