(Australian Associated Press)
Scott Morrison says experts are carefully watching vaccine rollouts in other countries to ensure Australia’s program is safe.
The prime minister has returned from a week’s break to news of deaths among elderly people in Norway who had taken the Pfizer vaccine, which will also be the first version used in Australia in coming months.
Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration and foreign affairs officials are working with Norwegian officials to get as much information as possible about the rollout.
“All the processes and the examinations are being done,” Mr Morrison told 2GB radio.
“These cases in Norway, they are distressing.
“They are very aged people and they were in the last phases of life and they are very frail – this can happen with vaccinations, we know that, and that is why it is important to be very careful.”
Mr Morrison was confident Australia’s rollout would be safe.
“Let’s make sure they are right … then we can give the tick and then people can safetly get the jab.”
The Norwegian rollout is continuing despite the deaths, with authorities there saying some adjustments had been made to the vaccine program in nursing homes.
Mr Morrison met overnight with the “first movers” group – Austria, Israel, Greece, Denmark, Czech Republic and Norway – to discuss developments with the response to COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccines.
Asked about the Australian Open tennis going ahead, he said it was important to keep a balance of holding events and ensuring they are done in the safest way possible.
“I like to keep things as open as possible,” Mr Morrison said.
Preparations for the Australian Open tennis tournament have been thrown into disarray after five more players tested positive for coronavirus.
More than 70 players have been forced into hard lockdown in hotel quarantine, meaning they will not be able to train for two weeks.
Amid criticism of international sports stars being allowed to enter the country while thousands of Australians are stranded overseas, Mr Morrison said: “No one is being prevented from coming home from overseas because of the Australian Open … their places are not being taken by tennis players.”
The federal government has secured 20 additional charter flights to bring more Australians home before March.
No new locally-acquired cases of coronavirus were reported in Australia on Monday.