Australia's daily COVID-19 vaccination rates have fallen sharply since a new advisory was issued for the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, amid calls for the government to "urgently change course" on its rollout.
The Health Department recorded 56,379 new vaccinations in the 24 hours before the latest snapshot on Tuesday. This is more than 30 per cent lower than the daily rates above 80,000 recorded prior to the warning about the very small risk of blood clotting linked to AstraZeneca.
Health Minister Greg Hunt did not reveal how many more Pfizer doses - which are recommended for people under the age of 50 - would become available in the short term, but said the dose numbers available to Australians would rise significantly in July and in the last quarter of 2021.
"That will mean a significant sprint for those who had not been vaccinated by then," Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
Labor and the crossbench parties have accused the government of putting too many eggs in one basket with its vaccine plans, and are now calling for the government to diversify the doses available to Australians.
Dr Helen Haines, the independent MP for Indi and a former nurse and midwife, has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for an "urgent course change" due to "significant shortcomings" in the vaccine rollout.
Dr Haines said that she had avoided publicly commenting on the rollout earlier in order to give the government time and space to get it right.
"The GPs being expected to deliver the vaccinations are not getting clear information or resources from government," she writes.
"We have dozens of smaller towns in Indi that have no vaccination clinic and there is no information out there about if and when they might open new clinics, and I have heard many stories about front-line healthcare workers in our hospitals and residential aged care facilities who are unable to get vaccination appointments. None of this is acceptable".
Dr Haines, like the opposition and the Greens, criticised the government for not securing sufficient supplies of vaccines until late in 2021.
"The prospect that basing our entire vaccination program on one or two vaccines would leave us vulnerable to a situation like this was entirely foreseeable," she wrote.
"The failure of the government to secure timely access to a diverse portfolio of vaccines can now be seen as significant and calamitous."
The head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration confirmed a second case of thrombosis had been identified in an AstraZeneca recipient, from more than 700,000 administered doses in Australia.
"Your chances of winning Lotto are much higher," TGA boss Professor John Skerritt said, urging the case be kept in perspective.
Australia also recorded its first coronavirus death for the year. A Queensland man was the 910th Australian to die from the virus since the pandemic began, with all bar five involving people aged 50 and over, the majority living in aged care facilities.
Professor Skerrit said the age profile of the dead demonstrated how vital it is for older Australians to get vaccinated.
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