Daniel Andrews warns Victorians not to wait for Pfizer after uncertainty around arrival of 9m doses

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<span>Photograph: James Ross/AAP</span>
Photograph: James Ross/AAP

The Victorian government has warned people not to wait for the Pfizer vaccine, with the commonwealth advising state and territory leaders it is still unsure when more than 9m doses due in October will arrive.

On Monday, the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, said the head of the national vaccine taskforce, Lt Gen John Frewen, had advised states of a “problem” with Pfizer supplies in October, urging people to book in for AstraZeneca rather than wait.

“I don’t know if it is resolved yet or how big a problem it is – there is an issue with Pfizer supply in October,” Andrews said.

“That is not the federal government’s fault, I am just making the point, as I have said so many times, don’t wait for something that hasn’t arrived yet. Please don’t wait and defer for something that may not happen. There may be an international global supply chain problem. There may be all sorts of variables. AstraZeneca is available now.”

Related: Victoria Covid update: Moderna vaccine headed for pharmacies as construction protest turns violent

Andrews call comes as the ACT government also raised concerns about its Pfizer allocation, saying it wanted increased supplies of vaccines for its government-run hubs, as had occurred for NSW and Victoria for their outbreaks.

“It is our view that the ACT should not be treated any differently,” chief minister Andrew Barr, who reported seven new cases in the territory on Monday, said.

“We will continue to work with the commonwealth on this point. We are optimistic that the issue can be positively resolved.”

While the government is confident Pfizer will provide the 9.3m doses on order during October, a spokesperson for Operation Covid Shield said it was “currently finalising the October weekly delivery schedule with Pfizer”.

The federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said there was no supply problem and the government was “expecting that all of our contracted anticipated deliveries will arrive in full”.

“Look, to be honest, the thing that was raised was the timing of one shipment over the course of two weeks. We’ve been able to resolve that over the course of the weekend. That’s part of our work. Every day, there are different challenges.”

Hunt pointed to the weekend arrival of 1m Moderna mRNA vaccines into the country, with more than 11m mRNA vaccines now available during the course of October, up from 10m in September.

The TGA has cleared the first batch of Moderna vaccines, which will be distributed to 1,800 pharmacies from this week.

“So every state and territory is receiving their full allocations. What we have been able to do is make sure that we manage the arrival of supply,” Hunt said.

“We’re going from 10m to more than 11m doses. We have been able to bring forward the capacity for every Australian to have vaccinations before the end of October. Now, it’s up to the Australian public.”

Almost 2m doses of vaccine have been administered over the past seven days, after a record Sunday of almost 180,000.

More than 45% of the eligible population over the age of 16 are now fully vaccinated, while 72.09% have received a single dose.

The steady increase in the country’s vaccination rate comes as new sensitivity analysis completed by the Doherty institute and provided to national cabinet on Friday advised that “medium” public health and social measures while cases numbers are high would be “prudent” until Australia reaches 80% vaccination.

Medium-level restrictions include stay-at-home orders except for work, study and essential purposes, retail, hospitality and workplaces being subject to density restrictions, and indoor recreational venues being closed.

Related: In hindsight there was no foresight: how Australia bungled its Pfizer Covid deal

In a media briefing on Monday, the institute’s professor of epidemiology Jodi McVernon said that states were each considering their own caseloads and would track how the easing of restrictions affected the spread of the disease.

“They’re looking at their local situation, they’re looking at the measures they have in place, and they’re looking at how their case numbers are tracking,” McVernon said.

“They’ve developed up their own assessments based on situational assessment and are looking at the safest ways to ease up on social measures and minimise the risk of rebound, and I imagine they will continue to monitor that situation as they go, to be sure that it’s working as anticipated.”

McVernon said that while the initial modelling was based on even vaccine coverage, there were many small pockets and populations of “under immunisation”, which would remain vulnerable once restrictions eased.

“So it’s very important for public health units to know that, it’s very important for health system preparedness to make allowances for that, and I think it’s just really important for people to consider their place within a community in making decisions about risk, that those decisions are not restricted to themselves.”

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