Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 22 APRIL 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

Today, National Cabinet met to decide and to consider the national vaccine rollout.

As I outlined earlier this week, Tasmania remains on track to achieve our targets under the first phase of the ongoing rollout.

As of the 21st of April, 60,820 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Tasmania. That’s around 12.2% of Tasmanians over 16 having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

There's a long way to go, and it’s critical that as many Tasmanians as possible get vaccinated when they become eligible.

Today, we've all agreed on how Australia's COVID-19 vaccine roll-out will be recalibrated, following the recent advice from Australia's vaccine experts about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

There was unanimous agreement in National Cabinet for the need to fast-track the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 50 or over.

Given this, we will open up the vaccine rollout to all Tasmanians over 50 from 3 May in state community clinics, and GP practices will come online from the 17 May.

This means that the 2A Phase is being brought forward, and anyone over age 50 will be eligible.

GPs and state community clinics will open to those 50 to 69 years old.

And there may be some people who may be able to take up vaccinations before those dates, but only after priority has been given to those who are over 70 in their areas in terms of GPs.

Aboriginal Tasmanians who are 50 to 54 have also been brought forward, and they’re eligible to receive their vaccine from an Aboriginal controlled health service, a GP clinic or a state community clinic from today.

The prioritisation strategy remains, and it's imperative we all work together to roll out the vaccines quickly, safely and as efficiently as possible.

Over coming days, the Tasmanian vaccination team will work with the Australian Government to ensure age and disability care workers have access to vaccines as a priority in state community clinics or via a GP clinic.

The Australian Government is close to completing the vaccination of residents in aged care and will continue until completed in the next few weeks.

Disability residents will be vaccinated in a joint approach between the Tasmanian vaccination team and the Australian Government and will also be prioritised.

National Cabinet also decided to follow the expert advice in priority to eligible people under 50 in Pfizer vaccination clinics continue the committee rollout of AstraZeneca, including to those people under 50 years of age who make an informed decision to receive it.

In line with the product information for the Pfizer vaccine, those Tasmanians who are 16 and 17 years of age will now be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine in Phase 2B.

To those Tasmanians who are over 50 and thinking about waiting til more Pfizer becomes available I want to encourage you not to wait.

What we know is the AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths, and the benefits to people aged 50 and over greatly outweigh any of the minor risks.

I emphasise that this is the expert advice based on the assessment of the risks and benefits of the vaccine for each segment of our population.

Both vaccines have been assessed by the TGA and approved for use in Australia.

The Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for adults aged under 50 years, whilst the AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to an extremely rare health condition, the expert advice is that it can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks and the person has made an informed decision to have it.

Again, the AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective at preventing severe disease or even death from COVID-19.

Tasmanians have done an excellent job of managing COVID-19, but the risk of outbreaks is still present, will be for the foreseeable future.

The way forward to avoid getting seriously unwell, or even die from this virus is through vaccination, and it's in everyone's best interest for this to occur.

This is a collective effort, and I've asked all Tasmanians to take up the opportunity to get a free vaccine as soon as it’s available to them, as has been the case throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to follow the scientific advice.

If you're eligible for a vaccine, but have concerns about your personal circumstances, please see your GP and have an informed discussion about the risks and the benefits before you make a decision.

I'll hand over to the State Health Commander, Kathryn, in a moment will provide more details about the program in the state, but on another matter that I just want to touch on.

Wastewater treatment testing is underway in Tasmania, and I think that's been publicly known on a couple of occasions.

The results will be available in coming days.

We'll provide an update once these results are available.

Now, as a result of viral shedding it is possible we may receive news of a positive result.

My advice is that in the absence of other evidence within the community, such as community transmission or other cases, that this is not a matter to be concerned about.

But once we receive those results, we will provide the information publicly, and I'd expect that to be in coming days.

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