Older Australians will be encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19 under a new media campaign to be launched within weeks.
The federal government is under fire for the slowness of the vaccine rollout, with a concerning degree of hesitancy in the community.
Medical organisations are worried about the lack of urgency and fear the government’s messaging is falling flat.
The Australian Medical Association wants a more effective national strategy to motivate people who are in no rush to get their shots.
AMA deputy president Chris Moy has warned Australians are sitting ducks until enough people are inoculated.
He wants to convince people to roll up their sleeves by promoting the benefits.
“At the moment, given we have no COVID and we are living in this really gilded cage, people do not perceive a risk,” Dr Moy told ABC radio.
“Seeing for example what is happening overseas where there is a tsunami of COVID and also the development of variants, we are sitting ducks until we get a significant proportion of the population vaccinated.”
The prime minister said the government was spending $40 million on advertising, focusing on those who are happy to get vaccinated.
“We’ll continue to have the conversation with the rest of the population about their concerns they may have and the best place to have that discussion is with your GP,” Scott Morrison told reporters in Melbourne.
“There is more communications going into the elderly population and you’ll see that roll out in the weeks ahead.”
Mr Morrison zeroed in on concerns about the AstraZeneca jab saying it had been safely administered to his wife, mother, mother-in-law, the health minister and health department secretary.
“This is a safe vaccine.”
Earlier, he argued there was no point in targeting messages to younger people because they could not yet get vaccinated.
Published polling suggests one in three Australian adults are unlikely to seek out a vaccine.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there was strong interest in her state for vaccination bookings and plenty of incentive to build herd immunity.
“The biggest incentive is a more normal life,” she said.
Mr Morrison plans to push state and territory leaders to adopt “vaccine passports” and allow easier travel across borders.
“It’s a practical proposal and I look forward to discussing it further with premiers and chief ministers.”
The prime minister said there was no hard and fast rule on what would constitute herd immunity, but noted some countries put the figure at 60 per cent of their population.
Mr Morrison has met with disabilities minister Linda Reynolds to discuss the rollout in residential care, which was criticised as an “abject failure” at a royal commission hearing.
The inquiry was told less than 1000 disability care residents and only 1500 workers had received their jabs, out of an estimated 23,000 people, despite being in the first phase of the rollout.
The prime minister claimed part of the problem was some people had received their shot without it being tallied in overall figures.