Stepping in

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a doorstep visit outside of the TGA facility in Canberra. Image: SkyNews.

PM steps into role of acting Health Minister as Hunt takes leave for infection

Health Minister Greg Hunt has taken sick leave as he battles cellulitis, a bacterial infection of his leg.

The Minister’s health is reportedly improving, according to a media statement released on Wednesday, and he expects to be discharged in the coming days and back to work next week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stepped in as acting Health Minister during Mr Hunt’s absence.

Mr Hunt received his COVID-19 jab just three days ago, on Sunday, at the official launch of the AstraZeneca vaccination where he was administered the vaccine alongside former PM Julia Gillard.

However Mr Morrison told reporters on Wednesday he was “certain” the infection was not linked to the vaccine.

“That’s the medical advice I have been provided,” he said.

The PM visited the TGA on his first day in the health role.

“I’m the first prime minister to have ever visited the TGA here in Canberra and I suppose that’s appropriate given the year that we’ve just had,” he said.

“The frontline of Australia’s effort on the pandemic has also been right here at the TGA.

“Over the course of this past year, they have been working night and day, literally, whether it’s been the testing of materials and equipment and medical equipment that has come in over the course of the pandemic.

“Or indeed this most important task now over many months, both in preparing for the approval of the suite of vaccines that Australia has pulled together as part of our vaccination strategy,” said Mr Morrison.

“But then to go through the meticulous process, once they’ve arrived, to ensure that those vaccines go through the appropriate batch testing and other tests to ensure that they can be distributed across the country safely.”

The PM and acting Health Minister said starting last weekend, a further 414,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses have been secured and have arrived in Australia. A further 149,000 Pfizer vaccines also arrived yesterday.

“That brings it to a total of 1.3 million doses of both the AZ and the Pfizer vaccine here in the country and yesterday we went past the mark where 100,000 of those have already been jabbed into the arms of Australians.

“I’m pleased to say that a quarter of those vaccines have been administered to the most vulnerable Australians in aged care facilities and those with disabilities.”

The TGA is publishing weekly reports of any suspected side effects for the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of 28 February 2021, they have found a reporting rate of 2.3 adverse events following immunisation per 1000 doses.

It has received a total of 79 reports across 33,702 total doses administered so far.

“The reports received so far are within normal expectations for any vaccine. Early reports have most frequently included cases of feeling faint, headache, dizziness or nausea,” said the TGA.

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