08/01/2021 – 10:33
Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination policy was adopted by Federal Cabinet in November 2020 and subsequently endorsed by the National Cabinet (partnership between the Commonwealth and all States and Territories), and has been put into action in the months since, as we prepared for the rollout of the vaccine.
Our scientists, researchers, and medical experts have been moving swiftly and safely to introduce the vaccine here in Australia as soon as is safely possible. Doing that is critical to public confidence in the vaccine.
There have been no delays in the introduction of the vaccine in Australia. There has been the necessary swiftness that has been asked of the TGA and the health officials that are driving this process.
It is moving considerably faster than normal vaccination approval processes would occur in Australia, but without skipping a step, without cutting a corner, ensuring that everything that needs to be ticked is ticked along the way.
We are now in a position where we believe we’ll be able to commence Pfizer vaccinations of high priority groups in mid to late February.
The Pfizer vaccine will be approved by the end of January, subject to all the data being provided and the safety and efficacy assessment of the TGA.
Pfizer’s global protocols require approximately two weeks for delivery, post approval of the vaccine and batch testing will take approximately a week.
AstraZeneca is expected to be approved in February.
Australians will receive 2 doses of the vaccine – the second dose for Pfizer will be provided approximately 3 weeks after the first dose and the second dose of the AstraZeneca will be provided approximately 4 weeks after the first dose.
There will be five phases of priority populations as we work through the course of this year to administer the vaccines.
Populations in phase 1A are quarantine and border workers, front line health care workers, and residential disability and aged care residents and staff.
It is anticipated that approximately 80,000 people will receive their first dose in the first week.
By the end of March, it is anticipated that 4 million people will have been vaccinated with the first dose.
The Pfizer vaccine will be administered at a limited number of sites – 30 to 50 sites across metro and regional locations.
Hub locations will be determined by the states and territories in partnership with the Commonwealth.
They will remain Pfizer hubs the whole way through and each hub will only deliver one type of vaccine.
From March, as Australia starts delivering the AstraZeneca vaccine, there will be an increase in vaccination sites up to 1000 sites in peak distribution.
Further detail on the site locations and how Australians will access the vaccines will be provided as the Government and states and territories finalise these plans.
Vaccination is not a silver bullet. Once the vaccination starts, COVIDSafe practices do not end. They continue. Physical distancing, hand hygiene, using the COVIDSafe app, and getting tested and self-isolating if sick. These must all continue.