The Australian government has been chastised for falling 3.4 million doses short of its goal of four million Covid vaccinations by 31 March. The 85 percent deficit comes just two days after Brisbane was placed on lockdown again to deal with a minor outbreak. Given Australia's low infection rates, the government said last week that the vaccine rollout did not need urgency. Since the pandemic started, the country has reported 909 deaths and 29,300 cases, far fewer than many other countries. In recent months, however, intermittent outbreaks have culminated in six city lockdowns. Critics argue that outbreaks like the one in Brisbane demonstrate the need for a rapid vaccine program. The virus was contracted from a Covid ward at the same hospital by a nurse and a doctor in Brisbane's two clusters. Officials aren't sure why those health workers hadn't been vaccinated yet. Critics also accused the government of mishandling the launch, which started on February 22nd, a day later than many other countries.
Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are being administered in Australia at a rate of 2.3 vaccines per 100 people. As vaccine coverage is expanded to the general public, this number is expected to rise in the coming months. Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Wednesday that a record 72,826 vaccinations had been given in the previous day, bringing the total to 670,000. That demonstrates that the national vaccination program is progressing as planned in the manner intended," he told reporters. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on the other hand, vowed in January that by March, four million people will have received their first vaccination. The government moved the deadline back to April earlier this month, claiming that six million people will be vaccinated by mid-May. It has also backtracked on a commitment to have every Australian completely vaccinated by October, saying instead that everyone will have had their first shot by then.