Prime Minister Scott Morrison has become among the first in Australia to receive the long-awaited coronavirus jab. Meanwhile, Victoria has recorded zero new cases.
The first Australians to receive the COVID-19 jab have been vaccinated alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Jane Malysiak received the Pfizer jab in front of the cameras at Castle Hill Medical Centre in Sydney’s north-west.
The aged care resident received a round of applause after gettting the jab and held hands with Mr Morrison, who was sitting beside her when she received the Pfizer vaccine. He was vaccinated shortly after.
It comes as Victoria recorded no new cases of coronavirus overnight.
More than 10,000 COVID tests were received on Saturday and there are currently 25 active cases in the state.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was an important step in building public confidence in the vaccine before the nationwide rollout began in earnest on Monday.
“Today the first group of people will be vaccinated, commencing with two of our aged-care residents, our critical aged-care staff, frontline workers,” Mr Hunt said on ABC.
“We also know that the chief medical officer and the chief nurse and the Prime Minister – in order to provide confidence, the Prime Minister will be the last of that group.”
Insiders host David Speers asked whether there was a danger Mr Morrison would be seen as “jumping the queue”.
“There was a very strong focus on the need for key leaders, not the parliament, not the cabinet, not even the leadership group, but a cross-party group, to provide that confidence,” Mr Hunt said.
“This is a cross-parliamentary view where parliamentarians don’t have any special status … that it is about the confidence and indeed the research shows that people want to see that if we believe it’s safe, then that will give them greater confidence.”
He added that Oposition Leader Anthony Albanese would be vaccinated later this week.
GRANTS, VOUCHERS TO EASE LOCKDOWN PAIN
Travel vouchers and one-off grants will form part of a $143 million support package for small businesses who were impacted by Victoria’s circuit breaker lockdown.
Restaurants, florists and wedding venues were hit hard by the five-day lockdown which fell over the Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year weekend.
As part of the government support packages announced on Sunday, food and tourism providers, as well as some retailers with payrolls of up to $3 million will be eligible for immediate $2000 grants.
And recipients of the already-established Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will receive an automatic $3000 cash injection for the lost revenue over last weekend.
Minister for Industry Support Martin Pakula said the cash injection for small businesses should start flowing in the coming weeks.
“This is far and away the most substantial support package for business as a result of a circuit breaker lockdown,” Mr Pakula said.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Paul Guerra said the $143 million support package was “enough for now” but said businesses would
need ongoing support.
Mr Guerra highlighted the expansion of the regional travel vouchers to include accomodation in metropolitan Melbourne as a significant boost to struggling city traders.
“Ultimately what business needs, is the certainty they can get on with doing what they love doing best,” Mr Guerra said.
Mr Guerra said he had been in discussions with the state government about better planning for businesses for any future lockdowns.
“What we need to see are, what are the parameters that are going to be in place so that businesses understand if we start to see cases climb, start to get prepared for a level of lockdown,” Mr Guerra said.
SYRINGE SHORTAGE COULD MEAN WASTED VACCINE
A shortage of specialist syringes means up to one-sixth of each vial of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine could go to waste, experts say.
The federal government has ordered a batch of custom-made low dead-space syringes but they haven’t arrived in time for the vaccine rollout starting on Monday.
The delay was blamed on a global shortage.
The specialist syringes can extract six doses per vial of the Pfizer vaccine while standard syringes are thought to be able to withdraw five doses per vial.
Epidemiologist Mike Toole from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne said some level of waste was to be expected.
He said it remained to be seen how much of that leftover one-sixth of each vial could be salvaged.
“Even with a steady hand and a sharp eye, often you can’t get out that last drop,” he said.
“So the idea with these specialist syringes is there’s no dead space between the plunger and the needle so you can draw the entire vial.”
The federal Department of Health said its priority was to reduce wastage.