Gladys Berejiklian has urged state premiers to keep borders open to enable people make Easter holiday plans, while saying there’s no reason to suspend the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
A number of European nations have suspended using the vaccine because of concerns that some recipients had developed blood clots. AstraZeneca has said there is no known link between the vaccine and blood clots, with the NSW premier saying the vaccines are “absolutely critical” in the fight against the pandemic.
“The best health advice we’re getting in Australia is that it’s absolutely safe,” she said on Tuesday.
“I have full confidence in the vaccine and I have full confidence in our health experts.”
Australia’s health regulator—the Therapeutic Goods Administration—was one of “the toughest in the world,” the premier added.
AstraZeneca is the main vaccine that Australians will be offered and will eventually be manufactured locally.
It will likely become an annual jab like the flu vaccine that can be tweaked as variants strains develop.
“I certainly wouldn’t have taken it if I hadn’t done my homework—which I have—and I feel completely safe,” Berejiklian told reporters.
The premier also repeated her call to other state leaders to refrain from imposing travel restrictions after a security guard who worked at a Sydney quarantine hotel was diagnosed on Sunday with the highly-contagious UK strain of COVID-19.
“There is no reason now for anywhere in Australia to have internal borders,” she said.
“While the vaccine is being rolled out and the level of transmission is low-to-negligible there shouldn’t be any internal borders in our nation.
“We should be moving freely as Australians.”
If just one state closes its border “everybody loses confidence because people don’t want to move around if they think they’re not going to be able to get back home.”
With Easter less than three weeks away people needed certainty in order to make travel plans, the premier said.
“We need to think about how we deal with the virus moving forward, given the vaccine rollout is continuing,” she said.
Within three weeks NSW will have completed an extra 80,00 jabs and 45,000 new people would have started their vaccine process.
NSW vaccinated frontline workers first because they posed the greatest risk of the virus seeping into the community from hotel quarantine.
“Given we’ve managed that risk, given that other states are managing that risk there’s absolutely no reason for borders to close,” the premier said.
“This is good news because it means we’re reducing the risk of community transmission. This is a good opportunity for our nation to have a reset – for our nation’s leaders and say let’s keep our borders open in the interests of our citizens.”