Chief Minister Andrew Barr has urged the federal government to plug a predicted gap of 30,000 doses in the ACT's vaccine rollout, saying the territory has done nothing to deserve a cut to supply.
The federal government has advised the ACT it would miss out on a projected supply boost to Pfizer doses between September and October that had been slated for government-run mass vaccination clinics.
Barr said other states and territories did not have vaccine supplies cut in the middle of an outbreak and it should be the same for the territory.
"I don't think we've done anything wrong to be treated differently," Mr Barr said.
The expected shortfall of about 30,000 doses over a month is equivalent to about a week of vaccinations.
Mr Barr said increased supply of mRNA vaccines would now go to general practitioners and pharmacies, rather than the more efficient government-run vaccination hubs.
"I don't want it to be perceived that we are unhappy that GPs and pharmacists are going to be asked to do more, but the efficiency of our program is such that we can deliver more vaccines to more people through our mass vaccination clinics," he said.
"We stand ready to do more with the capacity to do more, more quickly, which would help us get to those thresholds amounts and get an even greater level of our community vaccinated more quickly."
The ACT reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the lowest daily total since August 15. All cases were linked but only two were in quarantine throughout their infectious period.
Five people were in Canberra's hospitals with COVID-19 at 8pm on Sunday, including two people in intensive care; one person required ventilation. Four of the hospitalised cases were unvaccinated, while one person had received one dose.
Health authorities warned the low number of cases - from 2646 tests - did not reveal a trend in the ACT outbreak, which had grown to 625 cases with 401 recoveries.
"Today's case numbers are positive, but as was the case on Friday when we reported 30 cases, it's too early to know whether this is just a one off. What has been clear over the past five weeks is that daily case numbers have fluctuated," Mr Barr said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt brushed off the supply constraints flagged by the territory, saying the Commonwealth had addressed the matter brought up by Mr Barr and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at national cabinet on Friday.
"We're expecting that all of our contracted anticipated deliveries will arrive in full. That means an increase from October to September," Mr Hunt said.
"All of the states and territories are going to receive their full horizons."
Mr Barr said he had been advised by the Commonwealth the supply to the government-run clinics would not be reduced between September and October.
A spokesperson for Operation COVID Shield told The Canberra Times on Sunday the ACT would receive 190,400 Pfizer doses in October, an increase of 42,407 on September's allocation.
More than 93,000 of those doses will be for government-run clinics.
More than 3500 doses were administered in ACT government mass vaccination clinics on Sunday and of those 70 per cent were first doses.
Mr Barr said the vaccination rollout in the ACT would soon shift to providing mostly second doses, which would see second-dose coverage rapidly increase.
More than 80,000 Canberrans need to be given the opportunity to get vaccinated in the next month before restrictions are significantly eased, he said.
The Chief Minister said it would be naive to think the ACT's health system would not come under pressure from COVID-19 once restrictions are eased.
Mr Barr said the ACT would begin to increase limits on gathering sizes, instigate a phased return to schools and a gradual return to offices as the territory moved through the national plan's vaccination phases.
"But this may need to be slowed if we experience significant outbreaks during those times," he said.
Businesses would need to comply with density limits and high-risk businesses would be closed for longer under the ACT's plan to gradually ease restrictions.
"We have a much clearer picture of the significant risks of moving too fast at 70 per cent [vaccination coverage]," Mr Barr said.
"The clear advice is that it is prudent to wait until 80 per cent before making major changes. Before making major changes in the ACT, we will of course consider the national and local vaccination rates, the levels of community transmission that we're experiencing at the time, especially the proportion of cases not in quarantine whilst infectious."
Appointment bookings for 12- to 15-year-olds to get vaccinated in mass vaccination hubs opened on Monday, but slots would not be available until mid-October.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith encouraged parents looking to arrange vaccinations for their children to contact their general practitioner or pharmacies.
Just 2841 12- to 15-year-olds had appointments booked in government-run clinics on Monday.
The ACT had been planning for a supply increase to mass vaccination clinics, meaning there would now be surplus capacity at the AIS Arena vaccination clinic.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the Commonwealth did not necessarily have firm projections from Pfizer about vaccine supply.
"That does create some challenges for them in providing forward projections beyond four weeks to the states and territories. So there is, and has been throughout the vaccination program, an ongoing conversation between states and territories and the Commonwealth," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
with Gerard Cockburn
Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT and the lockdown is free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: