Roll up, roll up: Big names join queue for COVID vaccine


High-profile Australians, including five former prime ministers, will jump at the chance to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the first approved jabs arrive in a united front to combat vaccine hesitancy.

Former prime ministers, Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, Queensland politicians and the "King" Wally Lewis are among prominent Aussies to personally vow to have the jab when it is approved and rolled out across the country.

The stance comes after the University of Queensland scrapped its trial over false-positive HIV readings in participants - despite the jab itself being safe and effective - over fears it would erode public confidence in a vaccine.

Experts say the decision to halt the trial proves the rigorous process to develop a vaccine works, and Australians are being implored not to let it cloud their judgment as immunity through vaccination is the only way to eradicate the killer virus.


Dr Jeannette Young. Pics Tara Croser.
Dr Jeannette Young. Pics Tara Croser.


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: NCA NewsWire /Jono Searle
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: NCA NewsWire /Jono Searle


An unlikely coalition of former prime ministers in Julia Gillard, Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and John Howard have pledged to not only have a COVID-19 shot, but to film themselves to promote confidence in vaccine safety.

Australia's first female PM Ms Gillard said she believed the vaccine "should be made available to those who face the greatest health risks first".

"However, I intend to be vaccinated as soon as I am eligible and will publicly confirm I've had the vaccine," she said.

Malcolm Turnbull confirmed he would take a selfie to prove he has had his shot.

"I will certainly take the vaccine and encourage others to do it, too," he said.


John Howard. (Photo by Impressions / Getty Images)
John Howard. (Photo by Impressions / Getty Images)


Kevin Rudd. Picture, Patrick Woods.
Kevin Rudd. Picture, Patrick Woods.


At 81, John Howard, Australia's 25th prime minster also said: "Of course I will get the vaccine."

His 2007 successor Kevin Rudd also confirmed he is on board with the pledge..

"I see no reason to doubt Australia's approvals processes on the basis of the disappointing news out of UQ," he said.

Tony Abbott said he would "have the jab as soon as it is available".

Rugby league great Wally Lewis insists it is only "common sense" to have the shot.

Dr Young said she would happily be first in line.

"I know it will be safe and effective," she said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: "If the Chief Health officer advises me to get it I will get it".

"We will await the outcome of the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and will always act on the health advice," she said.


Wally Lewis. (Image/Josh Woning)
Wally Lewis. (Image/Josh Woning)


Kay McGrath. Pic Jamie Hanson
Kay McGrath. Pic Jamie Hanson


Deputy Premier Steven Miles said he would jump at the change to get himself and his family vaccinated.

"Queenslanders have made so many sacrifices this year - let's all get the COVID vaccine to make those sacrifices worth it," he said.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner confirmed his whole family will be vaccinated when eligible.

Opposition leader David Crisafulli will "absolutely" have the vaccine but doesn't want to see the rich and powerful take priority.

Television personality Kay McGrath has already got her sleeves rolled up.

"If we want life to return to normal I don't think we have any other choice," she said.

UQ vaccine-hesitancy researcher Dr Tom Aechtner said it was the dependable checks and balances that halted the homegrown candidate that should bolster confidence.

"The UQ vaccine outcome should actually give people confidence because even when the need for COVID vaccines couldn't be higher, the procedures were followed and the public was notified," he said.

Queensland's former Chief Health Officer Gerry Fitzgerald said lives are at risk if Australia loses faith in its remaining COVID vaccine options.



Originally published as Roll up, roll up: Big names join queue for COVID vaccine