Victoria’s vaccine rollout ‘on track and on time’, Merlino says

Mr Foley said he did not know the number of vaccines administered in Victoria by the Commonwealth. “I’m very curious to know that,” he said, adding that he had asked the federal government for this figure.

Mr Merlino said the state would also expand the number of sites for its vaccine delivery, with two new high-volume centres at the Melbourne Showgrounds and the Mercure Ballarat to be opened “in the coming weeks”.

Mr Foley said he believed the Morrison government would commit to greater transparency on how many vaccines it was procuring and administering in each state.

His comments came as it was revealed that Victoria has not received its weekly allocation of vaccines from the federal government, meaning the state has had to run down its vaccine stockpiles.

The Health Department’s Ben Cowie, who is leading the Victorian rollout, said 40,000 vaccines were due to arrive this week but had not been delivered.

Professor Cowie said the vaccine program was an “immense” public health challenge and said Victoria had additional stock that was being dipped into while the state waited for the delivery.

He also said the 300,000 dose goal was achievable. By April 7, more than 120,000 vaccine doses had been administered at state-commissioned sites.

Mr Foley said the vaccination scheme required “a level of logistical and intergovernmental cooperation that we’ve not seen in this country’s history”.

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“The right hand and the left hand are talking every day,” he said.

“There have been a few bumps along the way … but we think now is the time … to have that national conversation.”

The government will establish pop-up vaccination facilities to cater for public housing residents at locations including Prahran, Lilydale, Broadmeadows, West Melbourne and Deer Park.

Almost all hotel quarantine and port of entry workers have received their first dose of the vaccine, as well as more than three-quarters of health workers as part of phase 1a.

In the next fortnight, every public residential aged care facility will have been visited to deliver the first vaccine dose to residents, according to Professor Cowie.

Mr Merlino also said he was confident medical staff at quarantine hotels are not working at more than one site.

The Age reported on Thursday that doctors working for Healthcare Australia were still working in second jobs, in breach of rules designed to reduce transmission risk.

Mr Merlino said he was not aware whether there were penalties for the company if they were found to be breaching its obligations.

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