Victoria’s vaccine rollout ‘on track and on time’, Merlino says

Victoria is still on track to deliver 300,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine by the end of May, despite not yet receiving this week’s allocation of 40,000 vaccines from the federal government.

The state’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program was on track, with 129,537 vaccine doses administered so far, acting Premier James Merlino said on Thursday morning, with another 150,000 doses or more to be delivered by May 16.

The vaccination centre at the Royal Exhibition Building.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

As part of the Commonwealth’s rollout, Victoria is responsible for providing vaccinations to workers in health, emergency services and other critical industries and public sector aged care.

Mr Merlino said his government’s delivery was going so well that the state might be able to offer to inoculate Victorians in other cohorts, easing the burden on federal vaccine providers.

The state government will discuss the offer at national cabinet on Friday.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the Victorian offer was dependent on vaccine supply.

“[National cabinet] gives us the perfect opportunity … to build and deliver this program,” he said.

Mr Foley said he did not know the number of vaccines administered in Victoria by the Commonwealth.

“I’m very curious to know that,” he said, adding that he had asked the federal government for this figure.

Mr Merlino said the state would also expand the number of sites for its vaccine delivery, with two new high-volume centres at the Melbourne Showgrounds and the Mercure Ballarat to be opened “in the coming weeks”.



Mr Foley said he believed the Morrison government would commit to greater transparency on how many vaccines it was procuring and administering in each state.

The transparency comments come as it was revealed that Victoria has not received its weekly allocation of vaccines from the federal government, meaning the state has had to run down its vaccine stockpiles.

The Health Department’s Ben Cowie, who is leading the Victorian rollout, said 40,000 vaccines were due to arrive this week but had not been delivered.

Professor Cowie said the vaccine program was an “immense” public health challenge and said Victoria had significant additional capacity.

He also said the 300,000 dose goal was achievable.

As at April 7, more than 120,000 vaccine doses had been administered at state commissioned sites, Mr Merlino said.

Almost all hotel quarantine and port of entry workers have received their first dose of the vaccine, he said, plus more than three-quarters of health workers in phase 1a.

In the next fortnight, every public residential aged care facility will have been visited to deliver the first vaccine dose to residents, he said.

Mr Merlino said he was confident medical staff at quarantine hotels are not working at more than one site.

The Age reported on Thursday that doctors working for Healthcare Australia were still working in second jobs, in breach of rules designed to reduce transmission risk.

Mr Merlino said he was not aware whether there were penalties for the company if they were found to be breaching its obligations.

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