Qld mass vaccination hubs a no-go until end of the year
Mass vaccination hubs won't even be considered in Queensland until "later" in 2021 according to the Health Minister, despite the federal government offering to pay for half the costs of setting up the sites.
The Budget included $510.8m over two years for the states and territories to administer COVID-19 vaccines and a commitment from the Commonwealth to fork out 50 per cent of costs incurred by states to set up additional COVID-19 vaccination sites - including mass vaccination hubs.
Mass vaccination hubs set up in New South Wales and Victoria have seen a surge in the number of coronavirus jabs put into arms.
State-run clinics in NSW and Victoria administered 6492 and 8281 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours to Wednesday respectively, while Queensland managed just 2444 doses.
But Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has indicated the government won't consider mass vaccination hubs until "large volumes of vaccine" are available later this year - in reference to the 20m Pfizer doses expected to arrive in Australia in the last quarter of 2021.
"We want to see more details of the Commonwealth proposal to stand up mass vaccination hubs," she said.
"As a highly decentralised state our focus is on taking the vaccine to people in their own communities, where it's best administered."
Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates slammed Ms D'Ath for being "either too arrogant or incompetent" to work with the Commonwealth on mass vaccination hubs despite the cash incentive on offer.
Analysis of Commonwealth vaccine data revealed Queensland's state-run clinics aren't in short supply of jab doses, with 62 per cent used compared to Victoria's 71 per cent and 77 per cent in New South Wales.
Queensland's vaccine dose utilisation rate has also dropped since data first became available a month ago, with state-run clinics using up 70 per cent of jab supply in the week of April 18.
The federal government has repeatedly told the state government they don't need to stockpile vaccines as contingency for second jabs have already been set aside at the Melbourne-based operation centre.
UNSW infectious disease expert Prof Raina MacIntyre said mass vaccination hubs would "help everywhere" and could benefit rural Queensland - where there may not be GPs - if big jab sites are set up in regional towns.
"If we are aiming to get as many people vaccinated as possible … hubs improve the ability to do that."
It comes as federal government ministers on Wednesday defended the nation's COVID-19 vaccine rollout program, amid the ongoing lack of timelines on when all Australians were expected to be vaccinated.
The Budget included an assumption that "population-wide vaccination program is likely to be in place by the end of 2021".
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the goal was to "ensure that the whole of population has the opportunity through supply to access a vaccine this year".
Originally published as Mass vaccination hubs a no-go until 'later' in 2021