An additional 10-million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine have been secured for Australians on the advice of the Scientific Industry Technical Advisory Group on Vaccines, led by Professor Brendan Murphy.
Through the Advance Purchase Agreement with Pfizer, this additional batch of vaccines means the country will now receive 20-million Pfizer doses in 2021.
“Securing the additional vaccines is another positive step in protecting Australians from Covid-19,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Program on track to commence this month
“We now have access to over 150-million vaccine doses, ensuring we remain a world leader in the fight against the virus.”
The vaccination program remains on track for commencement of delivery in late February. This will go to people in the first priority group, known as Phase 1a.
Health minister Greg Hunt said making safe and effective vaccines available to everyone in Australia is a key priority. “I encourage people to get vaccinated when their turn comes – every vaccination helps us defeat the virus,” Hunt stated.
Among highest vaccination rates in the world
“Australia is a vaccination nation [and] we have one the highest vaccination rates in the world,” he said. “We can be confident that every Covid-19 vaccine approved in this country will be safe and effective.”
As the rollout begins, people deemed to need protection the most will get the vaccine first. This includes aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline health care workers, and quarantine and border workers.
The priority groups have been determined based on the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) which oversees Australia’s immunisation program.
The Government is also extending free access to Covid-19 vaccines to all visa-holders in Australia.
Free vaccines for everyone residing in Australia
This will include refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa holders and those on bridging visas. People currently residing in detention facilities will also be eligible, including those whose visas have been cancelled.
“It is vital that we offer vaccines to all people living in Australia to achieve the maximum level of coverage.” the Prime Minister said.
Australia has entered into four separate agreements for the supply of vaccines, provided they are proved to be safe and effective. Combined, these agreements will ensure access to approximately 150-million doses.