COVID vaccine and quarantine boost: What’s next
More than 2.6 million Australians have had their COVID shot, but the budget allocates $1.9 billion to pay for more vaccines this year and into 2022.
This will cover the 170 million doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines the government has already ordered.
But the virus is mutating and pharmaceutical companies are warning people will need annual booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines as well as newer jabs to ward off tricky variants from South Africa, Brazil and India.
The budget does not explicitly include funding for vaccines beyond 2022 or for new ones to cover variants but Health Department officials said this was because these arrangements were commercial in confidence.
They said there was funding in the budget for this.
To speed up the troubled vaccine rollout the federal government will give the states $510.8 million over two years to administer vaccines through mass vaccination and other clinics.
Taxpayers will spend $233.8 million on freight companies who are ferrying vaccines to GP clinics and other vaccination providers.
With vaccine hesitancy a key problem after fears about side effects like rare blood clots, the government is planning to spend only a tiny $6.7 million on a national communications campaign to encourage people to get their COVID-19 jab.
COVID expenses extend beyond vaccines with a further $1.5 billion set aside for coronavirus-related health services, including for testing and tracing, respiratory clinics, personal protective equipment and telehealth.
With quarantine the key to getting stranded Aussies home the government will spend nearly $500 million over the next two years to expand quarantine facilities in the Northern Territory.
Originally published as COVID vaccine and quarantine boost: What's next