Greg Hunt Expects ‘Record Numbers’ for Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake

By AAP
November 14, 2020 Updated: November 15, 2020

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is anticipating Australians will willingly adopt a COVID-19 vaccine without having to make it compulsory.

He said the immunisation of children is at record levels, while there has been a large take-up of the flu vaccine even during pandemic lockdowns.

Addressing reporters in Canberra on Nov. 15, he said it was not the government’s plan to make the virus vaccine mandatory.

Epoch Times Photo
Minister for Health Greg Hunt addresses a press conference in the Main Committee Room at Parliament House on April 8, 2020, in Canberra, Australia. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Making it compulsory has not been part of the government’s plans he said. “We’ve been very careful to focus on the voluntary nature of this. And so it’s not a plan.”

“I’m not going to suddenly rule things out,” he said.

“But what I expect on the basis of the way Australians have adopted the flu vaccine, the range of national immunisation program vaccines, is they will probably be vaccinated in record numbers on an entirely voluntary basis.”

Hunt announced Australia will be part of a new international regulatory partnership for COVID-19 vaccines, which will share research and information.

The five-country Access Consortium is made up of Australia, the UK, Canada, Switzerland, and Singapore.

“The news on vaccines continue to be positive,” Hunt said.

“We are cautious, and that is why we have struck this international regulatory partnership.”

Deputy secretary of the Health Products Regulation Group John Skerritt said the ability to work with like-minded countries will give Australia greater assurances as the products are rolled out.

Hunt noted that the last two days of full data has shown the two highest days worldwide in terms of new COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In Australia by comparison, both days were zero national days, a record that has been seen in six of the past seven days.

“We are not out of the woods, we have to continue our containment measures,” he said.

This comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with National Cabinet on Friday to discuss how COVID-19 vaccines will be rolled out throughout states and territories.

The Commonwealth government has secured access to 134.8 million doses from four leading vaccine candidates, a deal worth over $3.2 billion, Morrison said.

He said the vaccine will be free of charge and will not be mandatory, but strongly encouraged.

“We would encourage people to take up the opportunity, but they will make their own choices, and we will be seeking to provide the necessary assurances about the safety of the vaccine,” Morrison said.

By Colin Brinsden. The Epoch Times contributed to this article.