Australia’s state of Queensland has only eight days of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine remaining, authorities warned on Wednesday, as confusion over who should receive the AstraZeneca shot continues and outbreaks across the country escalate.
The state’s health minister, Dr Yvette D’ath, said the federal government had rejected Queensland’s request for more doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, despite having given another state, Victoria, 100,000 doses three weeks ago.
“So we’re getting to the point that we have to start prioritizing only the second dose if the commonwealth doesn’t have a vaccine left,” he said. “And they need to tell us. Was what they gave Victoria the end of it? Do we only get what is allocated and no contingency stock left until the big delivery in October? Because we all need to know.”
Much of Queensland has begun a rapid three-day lockdown, triggered by an unvaccinated Covid-positive hospital worker traveling between Brisbane and north Queensland.
The state of New South Wales – home to Sydney and the epicenter of a major outbreak – confirmed 22 new infections, all of which were linked to previous cases and half have been isolated for all or part of the time they were infectious.
A 72-hour lockdown was announced for the Northern Territory city of Alice Springs because a miner who spent more than six hours at the city’s airport – but did not leave the airport – was believed to be infected. The man was tested for Covid and came back negative, but four of his five household contacts later became infected.
“We will operate on the assumption that he has Covid-19 and we will operate on the assumption that he is infectious while in the Territory,” chief minister Michael Gunner said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, state leaders and health officials discussed the continuing confusion sparked by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments late Monday that people under 40 could receive AstraZeneca injections and that the government would compensate doctors administering the vaccine in such cases. . The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (Atagi) still recommends that children under 40 years not receive AstraZeneca due to the rare risk of blood clots.
New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said in response to a question about Morrison’s comments: “The New South Wales government has always followed the health advice, and the health advice of the federal regulatory agencies is that those over the age of 60 should get AstraZeneca.”
Victoria State Health Secretary Martin Foley said the confusion was an “unfavorable reflection of the rushed conversation the prime minister started on Monday night without speaking to anyone.”
When Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young was asked if those under 40 should get the AstraZeneca vaccine, she said: “No, I don’t want children under 40 to get AstraZeneca,” and that she doesn’t “want 18 years old- old people in Queensland are dying of a blood clotting disease which, if they had Covid, probably wouldn’t have died.”
The latest cases include two health workers in two states. In New South Wales, several wards at Fairfield and Royal North Shore hospitals were locked down and not accepting new patients after a student nurse tested positive for Covid. None of the patients who came into contact with the nurse have not tested positive, said the state’s chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant.
In Queensland, authorities announced that one of the state’s cases was an administrative worker at Brisbane’s Prince Charles hospital. The woman had been offered the vaccine but was not given a dose. D’ath added that the woman should not have been placed outside the Covid-19 ward without being vaccinated and the government was investigating who was responsible.