Sunday, 24 January, 2021


Covid-19: Australia to begin mass vaccinations in February

Four million Australians to be vaccinated for coronavirus by end of March Australia's vaccine roll-out to start in February
Patty Aguilar | 09 January, 2021, 17:00

Bringing the vaccine rollout forward from March, Morrison said the vaccination of the Australian population will occur in five stages, and that the first stage is "the most necessary ring of containment and protection for the Australian population".

The priority groups in the first round include the 700,000 frontline workers in the health sector, border enforcement and care homes, along with the residents of care homes.

Secretary of the federal Health Department, Professor Brendan Murphy, said "Phase One" of the vaccination program would involve giving healthcare workers and other high-risk groups the Pfizer shots, which will be imported from overseas.

But the prime minister said that Covid safe practices will continue throughout 2021 even with the vaccine.

The approval process of Australia's second vaccine, provided by AstraZeneca, should be completed in February.

Besides new social distancing restrictions, the state has mandated the wearing of masks in shopping centres and on public transport, with a A$200 ($154) fine for non-compliance.

At the moment, the Prime Minister has said the vaccine will be voluntary, but plans are still being finalised.

Children will be the last to receive the jab, due to being at low risk of serious disease as well as there being insufficient data on the effect of the vaccines in younger age groups.

'All I have said today is that discussion needs to be had and so we will have that discussion, ' he said.

However, the Prime Minister cautioned that "COVID-safe" practices will need to continue to be a feature of people's daily lives for a long time, possibly throughout 2021.

The prime minister said he and Health Minister Greg Hunt will get the vaccine on TV early to improve public confidence.

Initially, between 30 and 50 hospitals will be used as hubs to distribute the Pfizer vaccine.

Facing fresh outbreaks of Covid-19, Australia's government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned. Australia also caps the number of people allowed to enter the country each week, and returnees must enter mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense.

We don't want to make promises that we can't keep - that is incredibly important.

"That will enable a rapid rollout".

Mr Morrison said it was hoped to achieve around 80,000 vaccinations a week and see that build up over a period of four to six weeks, with four million people vaccinated by the end of March.

Children and pregnant women will not be vaccinated until further checks of any side effects of the vaccine are considered.

On Tuesday, Mr Morrison told 3AW radio station that Australia "is not in an emergency situation like the United Kingdom".

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