Morrison’s age discrimination on vaccines: SA BEST calls on the PM to make all vaccines available to all
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plea to older Australians urging them to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca - or risk going to the back of the queue when other vaccine supplies ramp up - was today labelled “blatant age discrimination” by SA-BEST.
SA-BEST MLC and Ageing spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, also said the move was a “frantic, desperate attempt” to reduce the nation’s over-supply of the vaccine.
Frank urged the Prime Minister and Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, to re-think their strategy and make all vaccines available to all age groups and not restrict Australians aged 60 years and over to only the AstraZeneca vaccination.
“The nation-wide hesitancy over the AstraZeneca vaccine in the over 60s is the result of mixed messages that came from health experts about clotting risks - even though the odds are extremely low,” Frank said.
“It’s going to very difficult regardless convincing Baby Boomers to change their attitudes towards AZ, but to say they will be at the end of the queue once the preferred Pfizer and Moderna jabs are in greater supply later in the year - and they will be administered to younger people first - is blatant age discrimination,” he said.
“Australia is one of the very few countries dictating which age group gets what specific vaccines. It must stop.”
The Prime Minister announced today he will send a letter next week to more than 580,000 unvaccinated Australians aged between 60 and 70 urging them to get the AstraZeneca jab as soon as possible.
In the letter, they will be warned if they don’t get the AZ vaccination they will be put at the back of the queue when supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines ramp up.
“If Mr Morrison wants to achieve his vaccination targets quickly so that the country can open up sooner, then eliminate the doubt left in people’s minds by making all these vaccines freely available through choice,” Frank said.
“Mr Morrison put all his eggs in the AZ basket last year, threw a billion dollars at CSL to make the vaccine and now has a stockpile he needs to off-load before it expires,” he said.
“His way of dumping that stockpile is to tell the Boomer generation ‘take it or leave it’. This is a mess of his own making.
“Thankfully the vast majority of people over 60 have taken up the vaccine but there’s a high number who are holding off because they prefer to put their faith in the other vaccines.
“If that’s what they want to do, the PM should accommodate them rather than try and persuade them with a personal letter.
“Let them choose and then we can move on a lot quicker to opening up and developing a vaccine booster program.”
Frank said epidemiologists are already warning that further booster shots are going to be required to combat the Delta strain.
In July, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they were developing a specific booster shot for their vaccines that would bolster protection from the Delta variant while AstraZeneca is still working on rolling out its booster later in the year.
In England, Pfizer boosters are due to be introduced for people with an impaired immune system from next month.
Regulators in the United States are understood to be assessing whether to recommend a booster program and, if so, to which sections of the population.
Israel has already mobilised a Pfizer booster program after experiencing a surge in coronavirus infections.
Frank said the World Health Organisation is currently monitoring new coronavirus variants that may be resistant to vaccines - including a strain from South America known as Mu.
“People need to realise vaccines are the only way out of this evolving pandemic – they will significantly reduce the number of people being infected and reduce further deaths,” Frank said.
“This isn’t a hoax like the ignorant conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers like to make out,” he said.
“This is a real life and death situation and people should be able to choose for themselves what vaccine they want to be vaccinated with.”