PM won’t disrupt national rollout for NSW

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not disrupt the vaccination program across the nation to redirect Pfizer vaccines to COVID-19-ravaged Sydney.

However, the prime minister has backed lengthening the time between precious Pfizer doses to ensure younger people in the city’s worst-affected suburbs at least get one dose.

“Where there is potential to put more vaccines into NSW, even beyond what we are doing, of course we will seek to do that,” he said following a meeting with state and territory leaders on Friday.

“But we’re not going to disrupt the vaccination program around the rest of the country.”

His comments followed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s appeal for extra Pfizer doses to vaccinate residents in the worst-hit local government areas.

Ms Berejiklian’s request came as the state recorded 136 locally-acquired cases on Friday and Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant declared the situation a national emergency.

NSW was given an additional 150,000 doses of Pfizer and the same amount of AstraZeneca earlier in the month as the disease began to grip Sydney.

Other states would have had to redirect highly sought-after Pfizer supplies to meet the premier’s request.

Victoria, WA and Tasmania have indicated they would not sacrifice their own state’s vaccine rollout.

Instead, the gap between Pfizer jabs will likely be extended from three weeks to six in a bid for more people to receive a first dose.

The Victorian government installed a police guard around Melbourne during its lengthy second lockdown in 2020 to protect other areas from virus spread.

However, Mr Morrison indicated such measures were unnecessary, indicating stay-at-home orders would suffice.

“There is nothing light about the lockdown in Sydney, I can assure you. My family are in it,” he said.

Just 15.4 per cent of the nation’s population aged 16 and above have received both jabs.

AstraZeneca remains the preferred vaccine only for people aged 60 and over because of the risk of extremely rare blood clots.

The Australian Medical Association has joined Mr Morrison in calling for the expert immunisation panel to rethink the age advice.

Final approval for children aged between 12 and 15 to receive the Pfizer jab is expected to be given by the end of next week.

Pregnant women were overnight added as a priority group for vaccination.

Victoria recorded 14 new locally acquired cases on Friday, raising hopes restrictions could be eased next week.

South Australia, which is also in lockdown, reported one new case.

Queensland is on alert after a flight attendant with the virus crewed flights around the state and also visited the Dreamworld theme park.