Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says travel not likely before vaccine rollout complete


Revelations of a travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia have excited eager tourists desperate for a return to overseas adventures.

But the Queensland Premier has dismissed the case for an extension of quarantine-free travel to include other nations with a low rate of coronavirus infections in the Asia Pacific, such as Singapore, Fiji, Vietnam and Thailand.

Annastacia Palaszczuk said access to other countries remained too risky given the various strains of the virus popping up across the globe.

“Let’s get the vaccine rollout done and then I think that will be the right time to have a look at that,” the Premier told reporters on Wednesday morning.

Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand planned to jump on the access to quarantine-free travel by offering extra flights once the bubble begins on April 19.

The vaccine program is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year but supply issues have slowed down the rollout.

The Sunshine State has about a 14-day supply of the AstraZeneca jab and seven days of Pfizer, according to Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.

She said the state received 25,000 Pfizer vaccines on Thursday and was told the next batch wouldn’t arrive for another two weeks amid ongoing debates between state and federal politicians over stockpiling accusations.

Federal chief medical officer Paul Kelly has asked the states to provide jabs as soon as dosages are provided, but Ms D’Ath said Queensland had a responsibility to hold on to vaccines as a contingency over uncertain supply.

“We can use it as quickly as we can and run out and wait for that next delivery, but we are mindful that at this stage we have no confirmation there’ll be another Pfizer delivery within the fortnight,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

Supply of the vaccine has been riddled by uncertainty in recent weeks amid fears of adverse reactions, including blood clots, which led to potential changes to medical advice from distributors in Europe.

The only locally produced vaccine at this stage is the AstraZeneca jab, which the Prime Minister said was still vulnerable to supply shortcomings.

“Those risks occur in one of two ways,” Scott Morrison said. “Obviously, what we’ve seen in terms of import restrictions and those that we’re bringing in.

“But even domestic production – there can be impacts on domestic production. There is always the conditioning factor right across the vaccination rollout of the medical advice and the development of medical evidence that can in any way affect any of the vaccines.

“And so, there are no absolute guarantees when it comes to this. We will follow the medical advice. We will continue to ramp up production here in Australia. And we will continue to move through the distribution channels that can deliver the supply of vaccines that we have.”



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