NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro blamed “complacency” for falling demand in people coming forward to receive their COVID vaccine.
He urged residents to “do your bit” and suggested Australia needs to jab 70 per cent of the population for the virus to be kept under control.
The lack of uptake is hugely significant to aviation as it’s unlikely the country’s international borders will open until most of the population has received a jab. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has also repeatedly insisted Qantas’ policy is that international travellers must be vaccinated.
“Right now here in NSW one of my greatest concerns is that people aren’t rolling up to get vaccinated … we have capacity and we have more vaccines than demand,” Deputy Premier Barilaro said on Monday.
“And that’s because in NSW we are living in a period of normal [because] the reality is there is no virus and there is complacency.”
He suggested NSW was “suffering from our success” because the lack of COVID and fears over blood clots meant most people felt no urgency to come forward.
“The reality is, and I have heard it myself, [people say] there is no virus so why bother or why take the chance?” Deputy Premier Barilaro said.
It follows NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard stating last week there was a “70 to 80 per cent” drop in health workers turning up for appointments since links were made between the jab and blood clots.
The fears led the Australian government to change its policy so that it would prioritise administering the Pfizer vaccine to under 50s rather than the Oxford vaccine that the country has in far greater supply.
Joyce has said he won’t let unvaccinated customers on his international flights because he has a “duty of care to our people and passengers”.
Australian Aviation also reported last week comments from Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron who said vaccinated Australians should be able to ignore lockdowns and closed borders as an incentive to take up the jab.
“Vaccination rates are not going to increase unless they explain what the benefits are,” he said.
As well as preventing deaths and hospitalisations, evidence suggests vaccines can also stop those infected with COVID from passing it onto others – leading some to argue aviation can’t return to normal until most of the population has been inoculated.
“If you’ve had a vaccine, why would state border quarantine rules apply to you?” Byron told The Canberra Times.
“We accept that [following an outbreak] if you’ve been in a close contact site like a restaurant where there’s been a positive case, there will be restrictions.
“But the indiscriminate way that returning travellers from city lockdown places are put into home isolation — you ought to be exempt from that if you’ve had a vaccination.”