COVID-19

Premier must be honest about the path out of lockdown

26 August 2021


The Andrews Labor Government has muddied the waters with its mixed messages on whether a vaccination rate of 80 per cent will lead Victorians out of lockdown.

More than 33 per cent of people aged 15 and above in north-east Victoria – which includes the Euroa electorate – are fully vaccinated, while 59.4 per cent of people have received their first dose.

This week the Victorian Government finally delivered on The Nationals’ push to boost vaccination rates, by ensuring anyone aged 16 and over will be able to access a COVID vaccine at state-run vaccination facilities from Wednesday.

But despite the progress, Premier Daniel Andrews refuses to guarantee that high vaccination rates will actually lead to an end of lockdowns.

Member for Euroa and Nationals Deputy Leader Steph Ryan said dangerous mixed messages about vaccines would lead to vaccine hesitancy.

“Every effort must be made to ensure Victorians can be vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible,” Ms Ryan said.

“Victorians need to know that if they roll up their sleeves and get the jab, there's some light at the end of the tunnel. But the Premier can't even guarantee us that.”

Data on vaccination rates confirms Victoria has fallen behind.

Last week New South Wales recorded 300,000 vaccinations, but Victoria had fewer than 187,000.

Based on current uptake rates, Victoria will not reach National Cabinet’s key 70 vaccination target until September 29 – more than three weeks after New South Wales – while an 80 per cent target will take until October 19.

Ms Ryan said mobile vaccine centres to target at-risk cohorts or hotspots and opening up bookings until the end of the year at all state-run facilities were two ways the State Government could speed up the rollout.

“Daniel Andrews has no plan to boost his sluggish vaccine uptake rates, only a plan for more lockdowns and tighter restrictions, which will continue to decimate people’s lives and livelihoods and cause immeasurable mental health harms,” Ms Ryan said.

“People across the Euroa electorate want to do their bit – we all want to see an end to lockdowns. “The supply is there – the Federal Government has about three million doses of AstraZeneca waiting to be shipped to any state that wants them – but it’s up to our state government to make sure the vaccines are actually made available to Victorians.”

Background

Every week in lockdown costs our state $1 billion and compounds social and mental health harms.

The Nationals are calling for a plan to jump-start Victoria’s lagging vaccination rates by:

  • Immediately redirecting funds spent on wasteful self-promoting State Government advertising into vaccination ads;
  • Ensuring teachers and early childhood educators are prioritised for vaccinations to keep our schools open safely;
  • Opening up vaccine bookings until the end of the year at all state-run hubs;
  • Introducing mobile vaccine centres to target at-risk cohorts and hotspots, and;
  • Fully committing to National Cabinet’s agreed pathway out of lockdowns.

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