Millions of Australians could be vaccinated for COVID-19 sooner than originally planned as the nation's leaders consider bringing forward the vaccine timetable.

National cabinet met on Monday to discuss resetting the national rollout, including the possibility of mass vaccination hubs to fast-track vaccine delivery.

One of the items state and territory leaders agreed to "in principle" was bringing forward the AstraZeneca vaccine for those aged 50 and over, or phase 2A.

The proposed changes to the rollout are expected to be discussed at the next national cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Mr Morrison said he wanted Australians aged 50-69 to be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine, which federal health authorities now recommend only for people over 50.

"We don't want to see one vaccine that's rolling off the line and going through the approval processes and the batch testing sitting in a fridge," he said.

"If there's someone over 50 who's there and wants to take that vaccine we'll be looking at how that can be achieved today.

"There are strong, strong arguments for the bring forward of over 50s with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is a safe and effective vaccine for those aged over 50 and particularly important for those aged over 70 who are already in that priority group."

Ahead of Monday's meeting, Mr Morrison also proposed a "12-week sprint" at the end of the year that would see six million Australians aged under 50 vaccinated.

The 12-week push would be dependent on the federal government receiving its expected delivery of 20 million Pfizer vaccine doses in October, as well as the Norovax vaccine, which is yet to be approved.

 

 

"There's a lot of work to be done given that would be effectively, if we wished, a 12-week sprint," the prime minister said.

"To be able to do that safely and effectively … there'd need to be plenty of planning to achieve that."

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The national cabinet agreed to consider mass vaccination hubs to supplement the delivery of the vaccine through GPs - which Victoria has already started.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the meeting was "very good" with "very positive discussions" among state and territory leaders.

"We had a very good meeting today in the national cabinet … everybody is on board for how important it is for the vaccination rollout to work and to be successful," Ms Palaszczuk said.

Earlier, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on Australia to "crack on" with getting vaccinated amid concerns people over 70 were cancelling vaccine appointments.

 

 

"I think we should be far less rigid in how we approach the vaccination rollout given we know that there's no issue with anyone over the age of 50 having the AstraZeneca and there is quite considerable supply in Australia at the moment," Ms Berejiklian said.

"We really need to crack on with it."

Close to 1.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines have been administered in Australia so far.

The federal government's goal of having the national rollout completed by October was thrown off course last month when concerns were raised of potential links between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urging eligible Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dylan Coker
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urging eligible Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dylan Coker

Federal health authorities recommended those aged under 50 avoid the AstraZeneca vaccine and take the Pfizer vaccine instead. The Therapeutic Goods Administration said the recent death of a 48-year-old NSW woman from a rare blood clot was likely linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Yesterday, Mr Morrison reiterated the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe and recommended for people aged over 50 and urged eligible Australians, especially those aged 70 and over, to make a booking for the vaccine.

GPs are echoing the prime minister's call and reporting mass cancellations of vaccine appointments since the changed advice about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Sydney GP Jamal Rifi told Today on Monday his practice has gone from vaccinating up to 70 people a day to barely over a dozen.

"Unfortunately, today, I have only 17 booked," Dr Rifi said.

"That is what is causing the alarm for myself and other GPs. I think it's the side effects and the reported cases of the clots that happened in Australia."

Dr Rifi urged people over 70 to get the vaccine, saying GPs were discussing rare side effects with their patients.

"We would like to send the message loud and clear that people have nothing to fear from this vaccine," he said.

"They need to fear the virus itself. It (the vaccine) is safe, it is effective."

 

 

Originally published as You could be vaxxed sooner than you think