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Australia officially starts COVID-19 vaccine rollout today

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Australia remains on track and begins rolling out the COVID-19 Vaccination Program starting today, February 22, 2021.

Initial doses of vaccines will go to:

  • aged care and disability care residents and workers
  • frontline healthcare workers
  • quarantine and border workers.

Aged care residents, nurses and doctors, disabled support residents and hotel quarantine workers in the priority groups were among the first Australians to receive a COVID-19 vaccine last Feb. 21 in Castle Hill, New South Wales.

They were joined by personnel from the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force alongside Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and the Prime Minister in getting vaccinated.

On Saturday, a small crowd began protests against the vaccination rollout and were held in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the Australian Government is committed to providing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines free to everyone in Australia – no matter where they live.

“We are ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines with hundreds of distribution points nationwide,” Minister Coulton said. “Further sites will be finalised in the coming weeks and will include rural, regional and remote-based GP-led Respiratory Clinics, GPs, community pharmacies, state and territory vaccination clinics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Health Organisation clinics.”

“The Government’s call-out to GPs and community pharmacies will strengthen the rollout and will allow people living in regional, rural and remote communities to access COVID-19 vaccinations side by side with the rest of the nation,” he said.

Minister Coulton also said that thousands of aged care residents, including many in regional Australia, will receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose next week.

Residents and staff in 134 regional and rural aged care facilities – almost 44 per cent of the initial vaccination locations – will be among those who get their first COVID-19 vaccine next week.

“Protecting the most vulnerable citizens in our regions is an absolute priority. We are fortunate to have in AstraZeneca a vaccine that is well suited to be deployed right across the vast expanses of the country.” Minister Coulton said.

“We have also been working hard to ensure the unique storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine are not a barrier for our regional areas,” he said.

Both vaccines demonstrate they will stop people from becoming very sick – keeping them off ventilators and out of the hospital.

“Surge workforce announced last week will partner with peak organisations and other providers to assist in administering the vaccine for harder-to-reach populations, such as rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” he said.

“The Federal Government will continue to work closely with state and territory governments and key stakeholders to ensure communities in regional, rural and remote Australia are informed about the rollout,” he added.

These stakeholders will be particularly important as the Commonwealth, together with the States and Territories, establish the Remote Vaccine Working Group to support the newly established Vaccine Program Principal Committee.

Under the Australian Vaccination Strategy, the COVID-19 Vaccine rollout begins with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and will include the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from March 2021.

The Australian Government has secured more than 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Over 50 million doses of AstraZeneca ordered by the Government will be manufactured in Melbourne.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be administered through hub and spoke hospital vaccination clinics in each state and territory, and in aged care and disability care facilities across the country.

The number of hospital-based vaccination clinics will increase as more doses of our approved vaccines arrive in Australia.

Vaccination teams will go into aged care facilities – 240 of them across 190 locations nationally this week – to deliver the vaccines on-site.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines require two separate doses for a person to be fully immunised – Pfizer/BioNTech 21 days apart, and AstraZeneca 12 weeks apart.

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