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Labor calls for 'stadium style' vaccination hubs to speed up virus response


Labor has thrown its support behind establishing stadium-style coronavirus vaccination hubs to speed up the national rollout

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The federal government has played down the need for mass vaccination sites, insisting its growing network of general practice clinics has the program under control.

But opposition health spokesman Mark Butler said the strategy was not working and it was time for new ideas.

“I don’t understand why the Commonwealth is so resistant to an idea that has been rolled out in pretty much every country I have looked at around the world,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“These large vaccination centres of the type that state governments would be able to operate fairly straightforwardly are the way in which other countries are racing ahead of Australia in their vaccine rollout.”

Butler also wants pharmacists brought into the rollout sooner after chemists warned they had been delayed by a month and would not start administering coronavirus jabs until June.

He said it was unfair to force general practices to go it alone.

“I don’t think the numbers lie. And the numbers show how far behind we are. The strategy put together by the Commonwealth is not working,” Mr Butler said.

“There’s just not enough hands at the wheel and the Commonwealth has got to recognise that.”

Australia is on track to record one million vaccinations by the close of business on Monday, but the milestone is a long way short the four million inoculations the federal government promised by the end of March.

The United Kingdom has transformed churches and warehouses into vaccination hubs and the United States has used sporting stadiums.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said federal health authorities were not ruling out the idea.

“We’re working with the states and territories on the additional sites which the states and territories will continue to be setting up,” he told the ABC.

“Each state and territory is looking at what is the best way to meet the needs of their local population and to get the vaccine out to the people of Australia.”

Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud said Australia had been “badly let down” by the EU.

“The arithmetic is simple on this. We are three million short because of the EU, who cut us short,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Australian Technical Advisory Group is planning to meet on Wednesday this week to further discuss the case of a 44-year-old Melbourne man who developed blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca jab.

It has been in contact with medicine and healthcare agencies analysing similar cases in Europe and the UK.

Professor Kidd said it was important to note from the overseas experience that one to two cases of thrombosis have been recorded in one million people who receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“By contrast, we know that the risk of death from COVID-19 remains at 1 to 2 deaths per 100 people infected,” Prof Kidd said.

In South Australia, a man infected with the South African strain of the virus remains in a critical condition in the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

There were 10 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the 24 hours to Monday morning among returned overseas travellers already in quarantine, but there were no new cases of community transmission anywhere across the country.

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