Vaccine Transparency Critical: TGA Chief

February 6, 2021 Updated: February 6, 2021

The man who will give the final tick of approval to COVID-19 vaccines in Australia says transparency during the rollout is critical, while the federal government has announced certificates will be provided to those having the jab.

It came as Australia reported another day of zero locally acquired cases.

The head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration John Skerritt says his greatest fear is a low take-up of the vaccination.

He says once Australians start getting vaccinated the TGA intends to put out weekly reports of adverse events involving the vaccine, both here and overseas.

“Some people have said that’s a bit risky, people will jump on one person who may have acquired a nervous system condition out of 20 million vaccinated in the US,” Skerritt told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“But the alternative of not being transparent I think is a lot worse.”

Sky reported a new Newsgate survey which showed around a quarter of Australians need convincing about having the vaccine and 13 percent totally disagree with it.

“People are alway sceptics, people are worried, people are nervous, I understand that,” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told Sky News.

“I would sooner have the jab … than be lying two weeks later in an ICU care unit and worried why I didn’t.”

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said every Australian taking the vaccination will get a certificate should confirmation be needed for travelling or work.

“They will have a record, a digital and paper certificate,” Robert told reporters on the Gold Coast.

“Australians need to have that record, especially for state public health orders, but also when travelling and borders open up again.”

The TGA has already approved the Pfizer vaccine and is expected to give a final decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine this month.

Australia has secured more than 150 million doses of various vaccines and Skerritt said there are talks with around a dozen companies about potential vaccines in the future.

Hotel quarantine workers, frontline staff and border officials are first in line for the Pfizer jab, along with the elderly and most vulnerable.

The government hopes most Australians will be vaccinated by late October.

Meanwhile, NSW and Queensland both reported no locally acquired cases, but one infection in a returned overseas traveller.

NSW, now in its 21st day of no local cases, has introduced a day-16 COVID-19 test for overseas travellers after they have completed their 14-day quarantine as an additional precautionary measure.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshal, who reported no new virus cases, is also considering the day-16 test.

“We’ll look at that very carefully. If we need to do that in South Australia, that’s what we’ll do,” the premier told reporters.

There were no new cases in Victoria for a third straight day, but authorities there admit they may never get to the bottom of exactly how a hotel quarantine worker recently picked up the virus.

They are undertaking a ventilation review of all Victorian quarantine hotels and face shields have been made mandatory among workers.

Deputy federal Labor leader Richard Marles believes there is a need to look at other quarantine options beyond Australia’s major cities

“If you could wave a magic wand, obviously it would be better if people were outside of our biggest population centres,” Marles told ABC’s Insiders program.

He said thousands of Australians are still seeking to come home from overseas.

“That right there equals a need for which we need to have further capacity.”

Colin Brinsden in Canberra