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Covid-19 Australia: 500 GPs to offer Pfizer vaccines for those aged 40 to 59 amid state lockdowns

The freedom of millions of Australians is beholden to the whims of paranoid medical chiefs and their state premiers, business leaders fear, as vaccines are rolled out to GPs for 40 to 59-year-olds to boost the fledgling rollout.

Scott Morrison last week outlined a four-phase transition towards living with Covid and finally ending the relentless cycle of lockdowns and border closures.

The Prime Minister hailed a ‘new deal for Australians’ first focused on vaccination, but top business bosses want the government to go a stage further and commit to ending lockdowns and opening international borders by the beginning of 2022.

In a bid to quicken this process, thousands of Australians hoping to get vaccinated against Covid-19 will soon have their best opportunity yet, when more than 500 GPs across the country roll out the Pfizer jab for those aged between 40 and 59.

The Pfizer vaccine will be available to more doctors from Monday, as several states and territories continue battling various coronavirus outbreaks which have lead to snap border closures and lockdowns.

The federal government’s heavily-criticised vaccine rollout will step things up this month with the Pfizer vaccine available to more doctors with several states and territories battling various Covid outbreaks (pictured, Sydneysiders in Bondi on Sunday)

Thousands more Australians hoping to get vaccinated against Covid-19 will have their best opportunity yet, when over 500 GP across the country roll out the Pfizer vaccine for those aged 40 to 59. Pictured: A nurse administers the the Pfizer vaccine to a client at the St Vincent's Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic on July 1

Thousands more Australians hoping to get vaccinated against Covid-19 will have their best opportunity yet, when over 500 GP across the country roll out the Pfizer vaccine for those aged 40 to 59. Pictured: A nurse administers the the Pfizer vaccine to a client at the St Vincent’s Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic on July 1

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said businesses have ‘had enough of lockdowns’.

‘Our federation is already fragile enough without a premier or their chief medical officer taking it on themselves to think that they know best,’ Mr Willox said.

He acknowledged that while he is largely in agreement with the four-step plan, national vaccine targets need to remain ‘realistic’.

‘We don’t want to set ourselves up to fail. What is agreed has to be achievable and in a reasonable time frame. To have a percentage target that is too high just defeats the purpose of having an agreement,’ Mr Willox said.

The pace of the prime minister’s plan – which will eventually let the country manage Covid like flu – depends on the vaccine rollout, with lockdowns eliminated once a certain percentage of Aussies have been fully jabbed with two doses.

But business leaders like Qantas CEO Alan Joyce think the plan should be sped up, with most Australians ‘not of a mindset to say lockdowns should be continuing into next year’.

Mr Joyce told The Australian there was potential for the national cabinet to ‘find common ground’ on what should be the nation’s vaccination thresholds.

He said he agreed with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews that lockdowns should end when everyone has been given an opportunity to get a jab.

Business leaders like Qantas CEO Alan Joyce the plan should be sped up to most people 'not of a mindset to say lockdowns should be continuing into next year'. Pictured: Passenger disembark a plan in Ballina, NSW

Business leaders like Qantas CEO Alan Joyce the plan should be sped up to most people ‘not of a mindset to say lockdowns should be continuing into next year’. Pictured: Passenger disembark a plan in Ballina, NSW

Scott Morrison (pictured) last week outlined a four-phase transition towards living with Covid and finally ending the cycle of lockdowns and border closures.

Scott Morrison (pictured) last week outlined a four-phase transition towards living with Covid and finally ending the cycle of lockdowns and border closures.

‘If the logic of Dan Andrews and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk applies, once we’ve got every adult who wants a vaccine to be vaccinated, then surely that should be the threshold,’ he said. ‘I support that logic.’ 

The airline boss also said that domestic and international borders need to be reopened as soon as 2022 rolls around, given the federal government’s promise that every Australian will have the chance to get a vaccine by the end of the year.

The first phase involves halving the number of arrivals into the country to 3,035 a week until August 31 to help keep out the highly contagious Delta strain, while the final stage sees all restrictions lifted except for testing of unvaccinated arrivals. 

‘From this week, selected general practices across Australia will also start to offer the Pfizer vaccine to their eligible patients, including those aged from 40-59 years of age,’ deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said.

‘This week 500 general practices will start to have the Pfizer vaccine available, and I’m told nearly 40 per cent of these practices are in rural areas of the country.

‘During this month, another 800 general practices will come online with the Pfizer vaccine as well as the AstraZeneca vaccine. This includes many Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, which will be offering the Pfizer vaccine progressively through July and August.’

The Air New Zealand check in counter is seen at Sydney International Airport in Sydney completely empty on June 23 after New Zealand paused its travel bubble with Australia

The Air New Zealand check in counter is seen at Sydney International Airport in Sydney completely empty on June 23 after New Zealand paused its travel bubble with Australia

New South Wales reported 16 new Covid cases on Sunday, including three fully-vaccinated people in aged care who aren’t displaying symptoms, as Sydney enters its supposed final week of lockdown.

Lockdown was eased in south-east Queensland at 6pm on Saturday as planned, with just two new cases found on Sunday.

Victoria is also returning to normality, with Melbourne restrictions eased after a string of zero case days.

But recent school holidays were thrown into chaos thanks to snap border closures in nearly every state and territory, frustrating many. 

What are the four phases of opening up? 

1. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)

Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week until August 31; lockdowns and state border closures as a last resort; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; Medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet   

2. Post vaccination phase (when an as-yet unannounced percentage of Aussies are jabbed, expected early next year)

No lockdowns or state borders except for ‘extreme circumstances’; caps for unvaccinated arrivals doubled to 6,070; home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; capped entry for students and economic visa holders  

3. Consolidation phase (date not announced)

Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; vaccinated people exempted from domestic restrictions; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out 

4. Final phase (date not announced)

Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival 

People queue to receive a vaccination at the NSW Vaccine Centre at Homebush Olympic Park in Sydney on July 1

People queue to receive a vaccination at the NSW Vaccine Centre at Homebush Olympic Park in Sydney on July 1

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