Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 19 APRIL 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

Sorry for taking a little bit longer today, but it was a good discussion that we had at National Cabinet.

With me today, Dale Webster, Deputy Secretary of the THS or Secretary of the Department of Health, and he’s in charge of rolling out the vaccine programme here in Tassie and, obviously, Dr Mark Veitch.

Now, look, as I've said on many occasions, protecting the safety, health and wellbeing of Tasmanians has been our number one priority. And that continues to be our number one priority as we roll out the vaccination program.

Here in Tasmania, we're doing well, in fact, we’re the best performing state in the nation for vaccine rollout and state-run clinics, and we remain on track to achieve our targets under the first phase of the ongoing rollout.

As at the 16th of April, we have completed just under 55,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses here in Tasmania, and that's around 11%, a little over 11% of Tasmanians over the age of 18.

So, this is the highest percentage of any state or territory in the country.

So in that regard, we're going well.

I do want to just compliment the hard work and dedication of our amazing teams.

People are doing a very, very good job, and I want to thank our health professionals that are working around the clock to vaccinate Tasmanians.

There is a long way to go, and it's critical though that as many Tasmanians as possible get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

We simply can't afford to go backwards, it's absolutely imperative that we get this vaccination program right.

With all that in mind, today's National Cabinet met and considered a number of issues, a number of things that we discussed, agreed in principle and there’ll be further work done in the next couple of days.

We'll be meeting again on Thursday this week, I expect.

Now, importantly, as has been the case throughout COVID-19, all Governments will continue to follow the medical and scientific advice.

And in relation to AstraZeneca, their advice is that the vaccine is safe, that it's recommended for people over 50 years of age and people who are eligible should discuss their personal circumstances with their GP, nothing has changed in terms of that advice.

Importantly, National Cabinet reaffirmed its commitment to prioritise and work through the remaining people in the high-risk cohorts in Phase 1A and 1B, particularly those in aged care and disability settings.

We also spoke about ensuring clear communication in terms of the rollout to aged care and disability settings, and we had a very positive and constructive discussion.

We've agreed, that is that Tasmania has agreed and, obviously, there will be some further work that will be done on this, that we’ll support the Commonwealth with its rollout in these important settings by providing vaccinations for staff in aged care and disability service facilities in Tasmania.

We'll do that through our state-based clinics, but also, I would expect, that GPs would play a role as well, and the timeframe of that will be discussed in the coming days, and we'll be looking at what that schedule might look like as we move forward from Thursday.

Once a timetable has been agreed, my expectation would be that the Department of Health would be in touch with Tasmanian facilities to obtain details of staff, so that bookings can be made.

National Cabinet, also we discussed bringing forward the start of the act of access to AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged between 50 and 69, but there’s further work to be done on that, and we'll have more to save once National Cabinet has met again.

We're going to continue to meet twice a week for the foreseeable future, as we recalibrate the plan moving forward.

But before I hand over to Dale Webster to provide more detail, I want to once again and just reassure Tasmanians that in terms of the process that we're working our way through here, there will be vaccine available for you and, importantly, just follow the timetable that’s laid out.

There is a little bit of change, and I know that can be disconcerting, but at the end of the day, you know, work with us, as you have done right through this, we will continue to provide clear messaging in terms of what the rollout looks like and when it's your turn and, importantly, where you can get the vaccine.

Ensure that if you've got any concerns, you can talk with your own health provider in terms of these matters.

And, importantly, the steps that the state have been taking, and I do want to once again just commend the Department of Health and Dale and his team, you know, it’s logistically a very difficult exercise, but they are doing particularly well, and as we stand at the moment, we are leading the country in terms of the numbers of Tasmanian adults over the age of 18 that have been vaccinated.

And so, I think very well done, Dale, and I'll hand over to you for an update on the numbers.

Thank you.