The federal government could miss another target in its troubled vaccine rollout, with its aim to have made six million doses available by mid-May under threat.
Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed a record 72,826 vaccines were administered on Tuesday, claiming the rollout was “accelerating exactly as intended”.
But earlier this month, the government released material pledging to make six million doses available to frontline and health workers by May 10, a target that would require a rapid escalation to meet.
“Our goal is to make sure that we are in a position where phase 2A begins in the middle of the year. That remains on track,” Mr Hunt said.
More than 670,000 Australians have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, well behind initial estimates.
But Mr Hunt claimed the nation remained on track to administer a first dose to all Australians by October.
“What we have done is made sure that we set out in terms of the time frame, a conservative time frame,” he said.
“I remember in early January where people were demanding everything now and we said that we would follow the safety protocols.”
The government is facing criticism for coming nowhere near its target of four million vaccinations by the end of March, spruiked by Mr Morrison in early January.
Vaccine supply was subsequently dented by export blockages imposed by the European Union, prompting the government to adjust its public expectations.
But Mr Hunt would not reveal when Australia would reach four million vaccinations.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud prompted a stoush between the states and federal government, telling the states to “pull their finger out” over slow vaccine rates.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian lashed the “extremely unfair” intervention, while Health Minister Brad Hazzard demanded an apology from the Commonwealth.
But Mr Hunt played down tensions, saying national cabinet had proved an “extraordinary vehicle” for the rollout and some friction was inevitable.
“I think all of them are doing their absolute best and doing an excellent job,” he said.
“We have confidence in all of the states and territories. They are all managing their programs as they best see fit and they are working towards making sure that all of those vaccines are used.”