/ 18 May 2021

Disabled Aussies left behind as vaccination rollout accelerates

THE SQUIZ
Despite being in the highest priority group, the vast majority of residents of disability care facilities are yet to receive their COVID vaccinations. The Royal Commission into abuse and neglect of people with a disability yesterday heard that 834 out of 26,000 residents had received at least one vaccination dose as of 6 May. Fending off criticism, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday said the updated number is 999 residents and 1,527 disability care workers who have received a jab. And he says efforts will be ramped up now that 85% of people in aged care have had at least their first dose. “That next phase has already commenced,” he said. It’s just one of several issues relating to the COVID vaccination program’s slow start…

HOW IS THE ROLLOUT GOING?
It’s picking up some pace… More than 3 million vaccine doses have been given in total, including one million doses in the last 17 days. It’s an improvement given the first million took 47 days to administer… Hunt yesterday encouraged eligible people to book their appointments “to protect yourself and to protect each other and to protect the community,” he said. And NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she wants 5 million of the state’s 6 million adults vaccinated by the end of the year to get the international border open again. “We need to be ambitious, we need to accept we can live with COVID … if the majority of our population is vaccinated, we can start thinking about those things,” she said.

DOES VACCINATION = TRAVEL?
Hold onto your passport… PM Scott Morrison yesterday said it’s “not safe” to open the international border anytime soon. He’s pushed back on growing calls from MPs and business leaders to reopen the country after assumptions in the Budget revealed the government does not expect to ease border restrictions until mid-2022. “There is a sliding sort of scale here, and we’re working on the next steps,” he said. Like allowing fully vaccinated Aussies to travel without being subject to domestic restrictions, travel to safe countries (like Singapore) and allowing international students to return. And speaking of international travel, Morrison is headed across the ditch at the end of this month to meet with NZ PM Jacinda Ardern to discuss “challenges” – so a few things… It will be his first overseas trip for the year.

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