Australia’s rollout of the coronavirus vaccine is likely to begin in February – some six weeks ahead of what was originally anticipated.
The first Australians should begin getting their vaccinations by the middle of next month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced yesterday (Thursday) when he outlined the rollout plan. The Government’s initial expectation was that this would only happen by the end of March.
There is a five-phase rollout plan, with the order of vaccination priority being determined by factors such as occupation, age and existing medical conditions.
Almost 700,000 people in first priority group
In the first phase, known as Phase 1a, people such as quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers, aged care and disability staff, and aged care and disability facility residents are involved. There are approximately 678,000 people in this group.
According to the Prime Minister, this group will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is likely to be approved by the end of January.
Phase 1b begins mass vaccinations and will encompass just over 6-million people. This group includes anyone over 70 years old, other healthcare workers, younger adults with an underlying condition, high-risk workers like emergency services personnel and meat-processing workers. Also in this group are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55 years of age.
Phase Two is for rest of adult population
Phase 2a is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are between 18-54, along with Australians over 50 years old and other critical high-risk workers.
Phase 2b comprises the rest of the adult population, plus anyone from the previous phases that has been missed out.
Phase 3, the final phase, is for children. But this is only “if recommended”, given current evidence that children don’t transmit the disease in the same way as adults do.
Around 1,000 locations are to be identified
Details of the locations where vaccinations will be administered are still being worked out. In total, around 1,000 such places will eventually be identified.
Once the first dose has been administered, there then needs to be a second dose, which should be administered about a month after the first.
Morrison has emphasised that the vaccination is not compulsory. However, it is expected that airlines and border entry points may be among those to demand proof of vaccination.