You might wonder why the Morrison Government hasn’t gone ahead with an advertising blitz to encourage Australians to get vaccinated.
After all, the jab has been described as the “only way” back to our lives as we knew them before — with open borders and no threats of lockdown.
Yes, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Health Minister Greg Hunt have urged the public to take up vaccinations when they are eligible. But there have been no ads and just 3 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.
On Monday, we learned why.
Covid Vaccine Taskforce Commander Lieutenant General John Frewen, who is undertaking a review of the government’s handling of the vaccine rollout, told reporters there are concerns that an advertising campaign would create demand for vaccines that the government could not meet.
“I mentioned the other day that we are close to moving into a rallying phase of the campaign to inspire as many Australians (as possible) to start taking up the vaccinations,” he said.
“We’re just working at the moment to manage the commencement of that in line with the supplies because we want to make sure we don’t start the campaign until we are comfortable (we can) meet the demand.”
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Advertising has been rolled out around the world with great success. But Australia is lagging behind.
And pressure is mounting on Mr Morrison to do more. On Monday, he faced more criticism from Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino who said Australia is so far behind the rest of the world in terms of rolling out its vaccinations that “it’s not funny”.
“Well, my message, and what I hope to see out of National Cabinet, is a sense of urgency, an acknowledgment from the Commonwealth that this is, indeed, a race,” Mr Merlino said.
“I want to see confirmation of supply. We want to see a sense of urgency. This is a race. A race that nationally we are falling behind in.
“In terms of where we are right now, we are well behind where we need to be. You know, our total in terms of our population, and how many are fully vaccinated, is around 3 per cent.
“You look at other jurisdictions around the world, they’re at 45 per cent, 50 per cent, 60 per cent fully vaccinated and a much higher number with their first doses.
“So when you compare how Australia is going with the rest of the world, we are falling so far behind it’s not funny.”
Mr Morrison last week convened the urgent meeting with state and territory leaders for Monday after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advised against the AstraZeneca jab being administered to people aged under 60.
Mr Morrison, who was undergoing quarantine in Canberra after returning from a trip to the G7, claimed a “lot of progress is being made”, with more than 60 per cent of people aged over 70 having received their first dose.
Mr Morrison responded to Mr Merlino’s comments by saying his assertion the lockdown could have been avoided by having more people vaccinated is “hard to marry with international experience”.
He pointed to nations like Singapore where cases are surging, despite more than one-third of the population having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
“It’s hard to reconcile that with the international experience,” he said of Mr Merlino’s comments.
“When you look at countries around the world, which had far worse covid experiences, and of course, entered into the vaccination program in emergency measures, well before Australia, whether it is in France, Canada, particularly now in Singapore, it’s hard to marry that with international experience.”