Australia is set to shift to mass coronavirus vaccination clinics in a bid to roll out more jabs under the troubled immunisation program.
Scott Morrison on Wednesday abandoned his opposition to major vaccine hubs, which Labor and doctors have pushed for.
The Prime Minister made the shift after announcing he would meet with state and territory leaders twice a week to get the derailed rollout back on track.
“We’ll need to change our rollout to go to mass vaccination options and that will have to be done in partnership with states and territories,” he told The West Australian.
Mr Morrison said offering all Australians at least one shot of a vaccine by the end of this year remained a possibility.
“At this stage, there are too many uncertainties, I think, to commit to a timetable like that,” he said.
“I would need, and the states would need to be sure, they could put those arrangements in place and ramp them up and to do that safely.”
The federal government is copping significant flack over its decision to dump a vaccine rollout timetable after falling short of its initial targets.
Mr Morrison attributed the delays to three million doses failing to arrive from Europe and medical advice for people under 50 to avoid the AstraZeneca jab.
The government is attempting to complete vaccinations for the most vulnerable people by the middle of the year.
The Prime Minister said opening international borders at the end of this year or in early 2022 would mean having a similar tolerance for coronavirus as the flu.
“There would be cases of COVID if the international borders were lifted,” Mr Morrison said.
“We’d have to be confident and comfortable that it would be in Australia’s interest to have potentially large numbers of cases of COVID, knowing that it would not lead to the horrific outcomes that we saw.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, his department and Australia’s chief medical officers have provided regular updates on case numbers since the start of the pandemic.
But Mr Morrison said there would need to be a rethink on the attention paid to infection numbers.
“There’s a lot of focus on the daily number of cases, both by state governments, their chief health officers, their premiers, but also by the media,” he said.
The next national cabinet meeting has been brought forward to Monday and after that will meet twice a week.
Mr Morrison said the more regular meetings would continue “until we solve the problems and get the program back on track”.