PM abandons vaccination targets as hopes fade for return to international travel this year

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the federal government would abandon its previous target of getting all adults vaccinated for Covid by the end of the year and says it won’t be setting any new ones.

The government’s vaccine program was thrown into disarray after medical experts advised against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on those under 50 following bloodclotting fears in very rare cases.

To date the government had missed every one of its vaccine targets by a country mile. It originally said it would fully vaccinate all 20 million adults by the end of October, but once it became apparent this was wildly optimistic it was adjusted to giving all adults their first dose by that date.

“The government has also not set, nor has any plans to set any new targets for completing first doses,” Morrison said.

“While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved.”

The government has nominated Pfizer as the “preferred vaccine” for those under 50 but is currently only sitting on about a million doses. It has 40 million on back order with no date on when they might arrive. Or how quickly they could be administered.

Currently only around 1.16 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccines had been administered in Australia.

This is bad news for hopes international travel will return soon, with a new report by Deloitte Access Economics forecasting that Aussies won’t be able to head overseas in any normal way until 2024.

The quarterly forecast expects international borders will re-open gradually with incoming travellers to undergo some form of quarantine for a while yet.

Deloitte economist Chris Richardson says that will keep international travel “pretty weak in 2022, and it may not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024”. And that forecast was before the vaccine u-turn.