(Image: Gorkie/Private Media)

To be clear: the AstraZeneca vaccine is orders of magnitude safer than the oral contraceptives that millions of Australian women take regularly, but the government is prepared to further delay its already disastrous vaccine rollout so that people under 50 don't have to take it, sending Australia into a third year of COVID pandemic?

That's the confused message delivered by Scott Morrison last night in the wake of other countries restricting the use of the AZ vaccine, on which Australia is relying heavily for its vaccination program -- the government's own figures show the AZ vaccine was supposed to cover two-thirds of our rollout.

That's a direct consequence of the government deciding not to pursue supply agreements with alternative vaccine providers -- something criticised as too risky by Labor at the time -- and the relatively late arrival of the Novavax vaccine, which is not scheduled to be rolled out until the last quarter of the year. Already a debacle and millions of doses behind schedule, the rollout will now be recalibrated to reflect that -- despite it only being a recommendation -- no under-50s will be getting the AZ dose.