Australian coronavirus vaccine rollout brought forward to mid-to-late-February

Safey of Carona vaccine

The rollout of a coronavirus vaccine in Australia will be brought forward to next month, with the Prime Minister saying the first groups are expected to receive a jab in mid-to-late-February.

Scott Morrison said the first groups to receive the vaccine would be workers dealing with international arrivals and quarantine, frontline health workers, aged care and disability workers and those living in aged care or with a disability.

“We anticipate, optimistically, that we would hope to start the vaccination with 80,000 people a week,” he said.

But the Prime Minister stressed it was a “target” and that the goal was to have four million people vaccinated by the end of March.

“This will of course remain conditional on a number of important factors, most importantly that final Therapeutic Goods Administration approval and the delivery of the vaccine from our suppliers,” Mr Morrison said.

Pfizer vaccine first to be offered

The first vaccine to be rolled out will be from Pfizer-BioNTech, which the Prime Minister said the Government hoped would be approved by the end of January.

The Government has purchased 10 million doses of the vaccine — enough to inoculate 5 million people — which has to be imported and stored at -70 degrees Celsius.

“The AstraZeneca we expect that process to be completed in February, but can’t give you a closer timetable at the moment than that,” he said.

The Government has secured just under 54 million doses of the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, with 50 million of those doses produced onshore.

Anyone receiving a vaccine, which the Prime Minister confirmed would be “voluntary”, will need two doses about a month apart.

The COVID vaccines arrived faster than anyone expected. Here’s what happens next

Department of Health Secretary and former chief health officer Brendan Murphy said the vaccination numbers would expand significantly once the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved.

“Remember we are manufacturing this onshore so we have [a] guaranteed supply line of this vaccine,” he said.

“That will lead us to a rapid ramp-up within weeks of that initial start.”


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