Why doesn't Australia vaccinate travellers returning home?

So it seems like the country is in a bit of a pickle at the moment with this Delta variant.

Anyway there are apparently 35,000 people who want to come home and these are the main risk of the cat getting out of the bag.

Why doesn't Australia go out of its way to give all of them (aged 18+) the Pfizer vaccine (most effective, short intervals between doses) before they come home?

Australia is injecting over 700,000 vaccines a week now, so vaccinating 35,000 (70,000 doses) is not overly costly when you think about how costly lockdowns that result from infected travellers are, I'd say it's a bargain.

I will add in a poll to see what y'all think

Poll Options expired

  • 142
    Australians returning home should be prioritised for vaccination before setting foot on a plane.
  • 186
    Australia should not prioritise returned travellers for a vaccine.


  • +35 votes

    Probably same reason under-40s still can't get them… Whatever that is.

    • +14 votes

      Supply obviously, but it's a question of priorities. As the main source of risk, and considering the relatively small number I would say it is a good use of resources to prioritize returning travellers.

    • +9 votes

      Something something, ScoMo bad.

    • +2 votes

      I’m 33 got my second jab today 💁🏿

      • +7 votes


      • +2 votes

        How? Do you work in health care or something?

        • -11 votes

          You don't have to work in health care, you just have to say you work in health care…

        • +1 vote

          Medical condition of depression

        • +1 vote

          Or live in WA

          The state govt noted that bookings weren't as high as they wanted, hesitancy was a problem for the over 40s so they opened up Pfizer for 30-39 as well.
          Instantly flooded with vaccination bookings which will help get herd immunity quicker.
          Then the federal govt said Pfizer for 50-59 as well so they've had to stop accepting bookings for 30-39 until the more vulnerable people get the shot.


          It is open to everyone, you just register. You don't have to lie. Got mine on Tuesday, just registered and got an invitation to book.


            @Alligate: In NSW, every time I try to register I get told I'm not eligible.


          I got my first one yesterday. Just registered on the online forms for Qld Gov. a few weeks ago and got linked to come and get one. Same for the wife- we’re 36 and 33

      • -1 vote

        was is the AstraZeneca? are you still alive?


          Pfizer to be honest l didn't want the az

        • +7 votes

          Do you ask everyone that drives in a car every <1000km if they are still alive? or every female that takes the pill if they are still alive?!
          Both have as much risk of dying.

          We stuffed up the messaging in this country with overcautious liability-dodging pollies / public servants and media sensationalisation.
          Most people would agree with you and its hard not to think that because we are all a bunch of lemmings that go along with popular sentiment.
          And yes would prefer Pfizer, because why not on the stats.

          However I know plenty of people who've had the AZ jab and they are all perfectly fine.

          It's hard to think about subjecting yourself to a risk of dying, no matter how remote. Even if it is 1 in 600,000 or something.

          However we do it all the time, every time we step outside the house, get in a car, take all sort of medicines, have some sort of surgery that involves anesthetic, smoke, write yourself off with booze, cross a street, have a baby (childbirth), go for a swim at the beach - all sorts of things.

          It's easier if you think about it as a good chance we will eventually get COVID if we don't get the jab and there's a far greater chance of dying from that then the jab… so get the jab!

          Even young people need to get vaccinated, to both help slow the spread but also protect themselves - look at the Brazil stats - "Brazil’s Ministry of Health has reported 1122 coronavirus deaths in children aged under 10 since the pandemic began, but US-based not-for-profit health group Vital Strategies believes the figure could be closer to 3000 deaths" … "also concerns for Brazil’s pregnant women, with 42 dying from covid every week."

          If you have a need (e.g. overseas travel, frontline etc), get the one available. If you can wait for Pfizer,… well, let's hope they sort it out soon!


            @MrFrugalSpend: What do you think about the fact that other countries such as the UK and Canada have advised against under 30s getting AZ?
            I'm under 30 and understand the risk is extremely low but it seems strange our Government has suddenly changed it's tune and gone against what the TGA advised when it said under 30s should get AZ if they can.


        Are you overseas waiting to return to Australia ?


      You can now if you're happy to get AZ.

    • +1 vote

      The reason is that federal government rejected Pfizer offers and ordered mainly AZ, and now there is not enough Pfizer. Therefore, they keep playing the "AZ is safe but we only offer for over 60 because some people developed clots, and a few died" because there is no other option at the moment.

      Australia should prioritise age care, quarantine, and health workers, and when Pfizer is available to everyone, only allow people to get into the country if they have two doses of Pfizer. Right now, anyone saying there is a business meeting overseas can leave the country, and then come back, but at the same time there are people who can't visit their dying relatives overseas, which for me would be a much better reason to travel. It's heartbreaking.

      Having said that, Gladys said it's not fair to offer benefits for those who are vaccinated when the government can't offer vaccine to everyone who wants to be vaccinated. I agree with that.

  • +24 votes

    From my understanding the vaccine doesn't stop someone spreading the virus, just reduces the symptoms so they are less likely to end up significantly sick in hospital. They will still need to quarantine to prevent the spread, regardless of being vaccinated or not as it will spread to others here.

    Once a large portion of Australians have been vaccinated, I would assume borders may start opening as it wouldn't matter too much if it spreads since many would be protected.

    • -13 votes

      The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at stopping people from getting the virus. So if they don't get the virus they won't spread it.

      There was a party in Sydney at the core of the current outbreak. Of 30 attendees 24 people got it (all unvaccinated) and 6 didn't (all vaccinated).


      • +36 votes

        The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at stopping people from getting the virus.

        This is incorrect. The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at reducing disease.

        • +11 votes

          "What the 95% actually means is that vaccinated people had a 95% lower risk of getting COVID-19 compared with the control group participants, who weren't vaccinated"


          • +12 votes

            @acersaurus: COVID-19 is the disease.

            SARS-CoV-2 is the virus.

            • +2 votes

              @BOGOF: Yes but you need to get the virus to have the disease.

              • +16 votes

                @acersaurus: Yes, but you can get the virus and not have the disease.

                • +8 votes

                  @BOGOF: I get ya, anyway key point is that the vaccinated are less of a risk to the community.

          • +1 vote

            @acersaurus: Also there are reports that Pfizer and Moderna which were only trialed in the US during when they had lower covid cases meaning people were less exposed Covid-19. Whereas other vaccine were trialed during the peak and in countries with different variants.

            Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3odScka55A

            • +1 vote

              @Anonymous101: Pfizer vaccine was developed in Europe (Germany to be specific) and trials were also run in Europe.


                @gromit: Sorry yes you are right the Pfizer wasn’t only trialed in the US. But according to the video I shared it mentions it was primarily trialed in the US. So I guess the efficacy rate would reflect that ?

                • +3 votes

                  @Anonymous101: Efficacy is determined by comparing the rates of infection with a control group in the same population. Volunteers in the trial would be sorted into demographic groups and randomly assigned to receive the trial vaccine or a placebo if they are in the control group. The idea is that each group as the same male/female ratio and equal mix of age groups.

                  For example if there were 10,000 people each group and 600 of the control group catch COVID but only 60 of the vaccinated group catch COVID then the efficacy of the vaccine is calculated as 1 - 60/600 = 0.9 (or 90%)

                  However, if the the same trial was held in a country with lower infection rates and 200 of the control group are infected but only 20 of the vaccinated group are infected then the efficacy of the vaccine is calculated as 1 - 20/200 = 0.9 (or 90%)


                  @Anonymous101: Efficacy ≠ efficiency, even though the media use the terms interchangeably.


            @acersaurus: They (Pfizer) also define a case as symptomatic. They count asymptomatic people in their 95%, even though asymptomatic are still infected and possibly infections.

      • +3 votes

        Maybe you're right, there is just so much misinformation and conflicting info around. Studies one week show one thing, then another the next…¯_(ツ)_/¯

      • +7 votes

        The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at stopping people from getting the virus. So if they don't get the virus they won't spread it.

        This is not true.

        You can be vaccinated, and still spread the virus. Your chances of getting sick from it are just much lower.
        It is likely that you wont be as infective, and be infective for a shorter time than someone that is not vaccinated.

        • +4 votes

          Absolute Risk Reduction (ARR) - The actual difference between those two groups - vaccinated vs nonvaccinated
          Relative Risk Reduction (RRR/RR) - The relative decrease in being diagnosed with COVID between those vaccinated and those not.

          Across Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, the ARR is only between 0-2%..

          Refer to slide 67 onwards of https://21a86421-c3e0-461b-83c2-cfe4628dfadc.filesusr.com/ug... using official FDA approval documents.

          • +1 vote

            @Marcx33: I lost a few brain cells after clicking that link. BRB gotta find my tin foil hat before i keep reading.


            @Marcx33: Yes, but the inverse ARR gives an idea of how many vaccinations need to be administrated to prevent one new case.

            1/(2%) is 50 vaccines.

            1/(1%) is 100 vaccines.

            AstraZeneca has been shown to be far more effective (so far) at reducing transmission, but the waiting period between shots for both vaccines is longer than quarantine, making OP's great idea non effective.

    • +10 votes

      It seems that vaccines do offer partial protection against spreading the virus if the vaccinated person is unlucky enough to be infected.

      In April, Public Health England reported the results of a large study of COVID-19 transmission involving more than 365,000 households with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated members.

      It found immunisation with either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the chance of onward virus transmission by 40–60%. This means that if someone became infected after being vaccinated, they were only around half as likely to pass their infection on to others compared to infected people who were not vaccinated.

      Mounting evidence suggests COVID vaccines do reduce transmission


        Well yes but it's also very strong protection against being infected in the first place, so it's a double whammy really in reducing the risk to the community.


        • +2 votes

          It is not - you're misunderstanding. It only offers some protection against being infected but very very effective at preventing serious disease.
          So the idea is - when everyone is vaccinated - we can live with the virus much like the flu where sick people will not overrun our health system

          • +1 vote

            @cktftw: I'll read the same quote again from the livescience article that I quoted earlier.

            "What the 95% actually means is that vaccinated people had a 95% lower risk of getting COVID-19 compared with the control group participants, who weren't vaccinated"

            Strong protection against infection I'd say.


              @acersaurus: According to that article, 95% reduction in symptomatic cases. ie 95% resist it or who get it but had no symptoms (virus is not hurting them). The vaccine is doing an amazing job keeping those people safe but their is a difference between not getting it and asymptomatic.

              Different companies use different definitions for fmeasuring how effective they are ie how long they keep their trials running, timing of checks, selecting groups, etc etc. Some use failing a Covid test, some use symptoms. Your excellent numbers would drop off you opted for weekly Covid tests as the asymptomatic would get caught and those people could now count as "fails". If you want to inflate your results you would only test at the end of the trial (when many people have recovered), or not at all.

        • +2 votes

          Well yes, the fact that the COVID vaccines offer strong protection in the first place is old news. It was scientifically established by the phase III clinical trials held in 2020 before the vaccines received approval for general use. Reducing infection rates reduces transmission.

          Establishing that vaccines reduce transmission by people who are vaccinated and also infected with COVID is much more difficult because the vaccines are so effective at reducing infection in the first place. That's why they are still analysing the data. Ideally we will never have statistically significant numbers of vaccinated people being infected with COVID in Australia.

          Meanwhile in the UK, 84% of the population has had at least one dose and 62% has had a second dose. They still had 125,000 people test positive for COVID in the last 7 days which is astonishing to me. https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/


            @trongy: It's because of the Delta strain being so prominent in the UK and ridiculously infectious, a lot of children and the remaining unvaccinated population are getting it. Some of the vaccinated are also getting it.

            The good news is this wave isn't resulting in high death rates, because of the vaccines. Daily death avg now 17 compared to over 1200 during their 2nd wave.

            The vaccines are not quite as effective against that strain.

            • +1 vote

              @acersaurus: So where's the study confirming there's no possible COVID-19 enhancement from the vaccine then, since Pfizer couldn't rule it out?

    • +5 votes

      Not true, people who have taken even one dose of the vaccine, if COVID positive, produce a lower viral load (the amount of virus being produced in the body) and are therefore less infectious.

      This was explained really well by a doctor on the radio the other day - paraphrasing below:

      Imagine that a non-vaccinated COVID 19 patients produces 1000 units of the virus. A fully vaccinated person would only produce 10 therefore reducing the amount of the virus that they can transmit.

      Hope that makes sense else feel free to neg.


      I wonder if the borders opening thing will actually happen anytime soon.

  • +17 votes

    The only thing causing chaos in Australia with regards to covid is returned travellers.

    • +71 votes

      you spelt "federal government" wrong

      • +33 votes

        Honestly, they've done sweet FA.

        • +21 votes

          To be fair, they've discouraged people from getting vaccinated (AZ).

      • -3 votes

        If the federal government was handling quarantine, it would be about equal to the states IMO. Labour and liberal states can’t run a flawless system. The best option is to actually shut the border down.

        • +2 votes

          The federal government is responsible for immigration into the country not the states. Scumo has waived his hands of responsibility. So the states have picked up the slack and he's gone on another holiday.

          • +1 vote

            @Caped Baldy: The states/premiers wanted a lot of control and got it, they didn't want to relinquish control to the feds. They control their internal borders. They control the external borders (modifying it shutting down quarantine) when they want. They run their own lockdowns. They invented hotel quarantine. They agreed to run quarantine as they were better equipped.

            Whether they should be doing all this out not is kind of irrelevant since they wanted to be in control. They didn't trust the feds and were more than happy to take the glory until it turned bad. The states, like the feds, have had a year to get quarantine fixed. What have they been doing? The whole passing the buck back to feds only started when the states started failing and where looking for a scapegoat.

            Both the Feds and states have had 12 months to fix quarantine, buck passing isn't good enough. If the feds weren't doing it (shame on them), the states should have since they already ran the quarantine under the agreements. Letting the people in your state get locked down and put at risk by Covid outbreaks to make a point is monumentally stupid (shame on you).

            I'm tired of the buck passing and blaming each other. They both could have done it, both have reasonably expectations to step up. Neither has.

  • +13 votes

    Anyway there are apparently 35,000 people who want to come home

    I'd like to know how they've prioritised the people who "want to come home" getting back into the country so far. Are they the ones that have left the country recently and now want to come home? Or are they the ones that have been "stuck" since the beginning of the pandemic last year and are still waiting to come home?

    Those that have left the country recently, knowing full well the situation here and everywhere, should go to the back of the queue and stop whinging.

    Also, what happened to all those who were crying about "human rights" and how "unconstitutional it is to lock out our own residents" when they closed the border to those returning from India? Ever since the infection spread from SA into Vic and caused the most recent lockdown, there hasn't been a squeak from them at all! Those damn idiots.

    • +2 votes

      It's a separate issue really, but the government is keen to continue to accept returned travellers.

      If that is going to happen then I think it is in the interests of the people living here to vaccinate them so they don't put us at risk.

      • +4 votes

        It's a separate issue really, but the government is keen to continue to accept returned travellers.

        Not really - it is the returned travellers that are causing these issues. The virus isn't appearing out of nowhere. It's coming back with those travellers.


          Well it is, and I do also think that returned traveller numbers should be reduced for a number of months (while appreciating the severe negative consequences for the travellers, it's the least of two evils) but if they are going to let them back in at current numbers, then I'd like to see more done to protect us already in the country, and hey here's something that isn't too costly and could provide strong protection.



            but if they are going to let them back in at current numbers

            $30 says that you don't even know how many Australians are returning each week right now.


              @MnGQ: Not many, but the virus is still getting out.

              We are paying a high price for a very small number to return home.

              Call it government incompetence, maybe in some cases yes, but it's happened so many times it's probably going to keep happening.

              • +2 votes

                @acersaurus: The virus can still potentially get out whether returned travellers have been vaccinated or not. The virus is transmissable even though vaccinated. The disease can be prevented by vaccination.

                The priority is vaccination for everyone in Australia. The fact is the virus is not going away, the borders have to be opened eventually, and the World has to live with it through vaccinations.

                • +5 votes

                  @BOGOF: Yeh but look at overseas examples where 50% percent of the population is vaccinated e.g USA, they were getting over 200k cases a day, now they are getting under 12k, restrictions have reduced. Deaths are around 300 a day avg, they had at one point over 3000. So the vaccine has made a huge difference to the spread of the virus.

                  Yes we will have to live with it, yes the vaccinated can spread the virus, the key matter is the extent.

                  • -2 votes

                    @acersaurus: You still don't get it do you?

                    So the vaccine has made a huge difference to the spread of the virus.

                    NO. It's made a huge difference to the spread of the disease.

                    Yes we will have to live with it, the question is to what extent.

                    Vaccinations. just like influenza, etc

                    • +1 vote

                      @BOGOF: It's made a difference to the spread of the virus. If the vaccinated are less likely to get the disease, then they are less likely to spread the disease or the virus.


                        @acersaurus: No. You are just plain wrong.

                        First of all, no body spreads the disease. They spread the virus and the virus only.

                        The diseases is what an individual develops as a result of having no immunity to the virus.

                        Time to stop posting now, you're just making yourself look like a bigger and bigger idiot with every post.

                        • +2 votes

                          @MnGQ: You are wrong - being vaccinated does reduce spread. If it only reduced disease then you'd see the death rate halve (or less) not reduce by 90%.

                          There's also plenty of studies that show the amount of virus that is shed is a lot less in vaccinated than unvaccinated people (less virus shed = less likely to infect another person as you need a critical amount of virus for your body to not be able to get rid of it faster than it can replicate inside you)

                          • +3 votes

                            @Quantumcat: I was talking about spreading disease, which is not spread, the virus is what is spreads.

                            • +8 votes

                              @MnGQ: Then you're being pedantic, insisting on the topic being something that doesn't matter and making it look like you don't understand

                        • +7 votes

                          @MnGQ: "spread the disease" is certainly a valid and commonly used concept and term.


                          If you are going to accuse someone of being an idiot because you feel like being pedantic, best to look in the mirror and get your own understanding right first.

                  • +2 votes

                    @acersaurus: The CDC reduced the PCR cycle count to 28 for people who are vaccinated , but kept it at 35 for the unvaccinated , Also they are now only recording cases that involve deaths or hospitalisations .

                    The goal posts have moved and the cases have dropped . Which makes it harder to assess the effect the vaccines have had.

                    This article has links to the CDC website .

    • +8 votes

      I'd like to know how they've prioritised the people who "want to come home" getting back into the country so far.

      The airlines.

      The government gives the airlines a passenger cap per flight/route/day/week.

      The airlines will prioritise those people that are willing to pay for higher class of travel i.e. First Class ticket holders get priority over Business Class who have priority over Economy Class ticket holders.

      New Zealand has an allocation system for quarantine, first come first served basis.
      You can see availability here https://allocation.miq.govt.nz/portal/

      • +3 votes

        Add to that, those stuck in many countries, not just UK, US etc, have no direct flights, so must transit. Then they can get bumped at the transit city, so then are stuck in hotels etc vs maybe being stuck in the original city with friends or family.

        Being bumped in a transit country waiting for a flight/seat is no fun, even when Covid wasnt around. Been there and done that and its very stressful, into airport each day, waiting in line, then having to find another hotel each night and back to hotel with bags etc. Adding masks and trying to avoid suspected other travellers would be really difficult.

        • +1 vote

          they can get bumped at the transit city

          It depends. That won't happen in Singapore as the government aren't allowing the airlines to bump transiting passengers.


            @MnGQ: I think you will find thats true, if they are transiting with the same carrier. Not all carriers are flying to Australia so thats where there are issues. However Singapore is a better bet than other transit countries.


              @RockyRaccoon: Singapore only allows travelers to arrive for transit if they are on an approved route on a single ticket.

              It is not possible to fly to Singapore right now if the ticket isn't for a final destination elsewhere that is approved by the Singapore government.
              You can't transit on two tickets right now either.
              So if your carrier isn't flying to Australia from Singapore, unless its a code share on the same ticket, you wont be going to Singapore.


        True. Mrs just came back from EU, Qatar flight had ~30 people on flight, ~20 of which were in business class.

    • +5 votes
      • +3 votes

        I would upvote you another 10 times if I could!

      • +1 vote

        Apart from the privileged comment about being reimbursed and the dumb cigarette smoking excuse, they pretty well called out many of the issues for those stuck overseas without a great lot of funds.

        Booked and cancelled flights, while those who can afford it, can go to a funeral and return.

        We see many flying in and out, however many are to the larger cities like London. Outside of those good luck.

  • +11 votes

    Anything to do with Government action or policy in this country is done at a snails pace. Try applying for a government position, you will know how long the process takes.

    Australia fell on its own sword, they were trying to go for a zero covid policy, how long did they think this would last? This, coupled with inept state governments and reluctance to vaccinate, has landed us in this current predicament

    EU countries and the US are already open with borders relaxed, meanwhile slomo and his inept Premiers are still diddling with lockdown after lockdown as their only tool of choice.

  • +13 votes

    I have a relative stuck in Vietnam, and can you explain how they can get the vaccine, when even many Vietnamese cant get the vaccine. Do you think they (Vietnamese) will prioritise a foreigner? (Thats not a criticism but a reality).

    Or maybe the Aust Govt will send a nurse and vaccine over there? Or should the Ambassadors roll up the sleeves, and we send vaccines in diplomatic bags, then what about those 500 kms from an embassy, I dont think so.

    Plus getting a flight means going via another country and will they accept the vaccine for those transiting.

    Substitute many countries for Vietnam (since the beginning - where they were booked on a flight, but Vietnam stopped the flights before Australia did) and the same issue arises.

    People forget that planes from Australia if they are allowed to leave here arent then allowed to land in the other country because we arent the only country practicising lockdowns and banning flights.

    Its called logistics

    • +3 votes

      My exact thoughts on the logistical challenge. OP calls it a bargain, but in reality it's simply not possible to coordinate something like that across hundreds of cities around the world.

      Arguments about how many vaccines Australia can secure and how many vaccines are currently being given out a day in Australia are moot points.

  • +6 votes

    Why doesn't Australia vaccinate travellers returning home

    Because at this stage no one can be FORCED to have a vaccination.

    Until this happens (if ever), a traveller infected with the virus or not, has every right to refuse to have one.

    • -1 vote

      Potentially it could be made a condition of returning home ( not forced) for those who do not have a medical reason to not have one.

      Or it could at least be offered (not as a condition).

      • +14 votes

        All Australians citizens have the right to return to Australia, unconditionally.


          I think that Australians overseas may not agree they are being offered such an unconditional welcome.

          • +4 votes

            @acersaurus: The Australian government has a long history of hating foreigners, even if said "foreigners" are actually citizens…

            Just close one eye.


          The Federal Court disagrees with you:

          I'm inclined to take their word on a matter of law over yours.


            @Almost Banned: Correct ! But the cases are a bit like the "Mabo" case!
            Having said this after 15 years I got a virtual free S21U!

        • +1 vote

          Nah if they bailed mid covid they can stay there lol

  • +6 votes

    I'm v confused by the numbers I keep hearing. "700k doses per week" doesn't seem to align with the percentage of the population that is currently vaccinated