Bill Shorten backs AstraZeneca jab as 'quickest path out of lockdown'
His comments come a day after Opposition leader Anthony Albanese declined to clarify his own stance on the jab.
Bill Shorten has publicly backed the AstraZeneca vaccine, declaring it the "cure to getting out of lockdown", a day after Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese declined to clarify his own stance on the jab.
Mr Shorten, the shadow minister for government services and former opposition leader, today met workers at the manufacturing site at CSL in Melbourne.
"I'm here today to see the magic bullet to get out of lockdown, the AZ vaccine. I'm here to see how Australian-made is going to break lockdown and help stop the spread of COVID," Mr Shorten told 9News.
"I'm here today in Parkville, Victoria, where the cure to getting out of lockdown exists.
"Twelve million doses of AstraZeneca have been produced by Australian workers for Australians.
"I've had the jab, you should get the jab, we can get out of lockdown."
Mr Albanese has been repeatedly invited to encourage take-up of AstraZeneca after access was opened to anyone over 18 through a GP with informed consent.
"Politicians shouldn't be the ones giving health advice. Medical experts should," Mr Albanese said on June 29.
The following day, Mr Albanese was asked again to encourage under-40's to get the vaccine.
"I share the idea that we should be listening to medical advice," Mr Albanese said.
Concerns have been growing within Mr Albanese's own party over his reluctance to publicly and specifically back the vaccine, used in over 170 countries.
Earlier this year the vaccine was linked to rare instances of blood clots, which led to the vaccine advisory body ATAGI preferencing the jab to over-50s in April, then over-60s in June.
That, coupled with the government's own messaging, led to hesitancy on the vaccine.
In late June, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared anyone under 40 could get access to it through a GP.
Last weekend, ATAGI changed its advice for people in Sydney.
"All adults in greater Sydney should strongly consider the benefits of earlier protection with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca rather than waiting for alternative vaccines," the statement read.
9News yesterday revealed Labor had pre-selected Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah, a critic of AstraZeneca, to run in the Victorian seat of Higgins against fellow doctor Katie Allen.
In July, appearing on the ABC's Q&A program Dr Ananda-Rajah advised a young man willing to "take on the little bit of risk" by getting the AstraZeneca vaccine to wait.
"My advice to you: stay calm, be patient, your turn will come, and that will be sometime in September. And you will be given the Pfizer vaccine and you will have protection in three weeks," Dr Ananda-Rajah said.
In a statement posted to social media today, Dr Ananda-Rajah said: "Australians should follow the official health advice when it comes to getting vaccinated.
"Vaccination saves lives. If you are vaccinated, you are protected from COVID-19. If you are not vaccinated, you are not protected.
"My comments on AstraZeneca were entirely in line with available evidence and official advice of ATAGI as endorsed by the Prime Minister and Federal Government.
"The biggest cause of AstraZeneca hesitancy has been the Federal Government's poor handling of changing health advice.
"It was Greg Hunt who advised people that they could wait for Pfizer and Moderna, which only made hesitancy worse.
"The blame for Australia's slow vaccination rollout is on Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt for not making enough vaccine deals and for failing to secure additional supply in our moment of need."
Mr Albanese was yesterday invited to respond to those comments and clarify his own views, to which he declined.
Mr Morrison told Today: "It's [AstraZeneca] a strong vaccine, it's an effective vaccine. It is the most recognised COVID vaccine in the world and its saved millions of lives."
In an exclusive interview with 9News, Mr Shorten said: "I would encourage you to take AZ when a doctor recommends no problems, this is the only way out of lockdown.
"Over 750 million people worldwide have had AstraZeneca.
"AstraZeneca is part of the arsenal to break the back of COVID.
"We are making the path out of lockdown right here in Melbourne, Australian-made AstraZeneca.
"I'm going to have the jab, my second jab, you should get the jab we can beat COVID, we can get out of lockdown.
"I back the science, I back Australian manufacturing, I back us getting out of lockdown, I'm backing AstraZeneca because that is our quickest and best path out of lockdown."
Labor has spent months attacking the government's vaccine rollout, accusing it of not securing enough deals outside of Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
In an opinion piece published today, Mr Albanese said: "He [Mr Morrison] put his eggs in the AstraZeneca basket. With Australia at the back of the queue, the chickens are coming home to roost."