Vaccine rollouts will begin in a month after the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was provisionally approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) today.
The rollout – originally scheduled to begin in mid-February before being pushed back until the end of the month – will first be administered to frontline workers, aged care staff and residents, and quarantine and border workers. The first phase will cover up to 1.4 million people.
The vaccine will be rolled out in five phases and will involve more than 1,000 vaccination administration sites. Around 30 to 50 hospitals will administer the vaccine initially.
In Canberra, the vaccine will initially be administered at major public hospitals by Canberra Health Services due to its special storage and handling requirements.
An ACT Health spokesperson said exact sites were still being determined in consultation with the Commonwealth Government, but that the Garran Surge Centre remained a possible option.
“This is a welcome and important development as we continue to take steps to manage the virus,” the spokesperson said.
“The ACT Government continues to work with the Commonwealth on what the COVID-19 vaccine implementation program will look like here in the ACT.
“We will continue to keep Canberrans updated as we learn more.”
Two doses of the vaccine will be required and the two jabs must take place at least three weeks apart.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly has indicated that while the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed first, quantities are limited as it is not manufactured in Australia. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is easier to store and transport, is being manufactured by CSL in Melbourne.
There is also a possibility that the vaccine delivery from Pfizer could be delayed, pushing its administration back into March, but “guidance remains for late February”, the Commonwealth Government said.
More information will be made available for Canberrans as it comes to light, ACT Health said.
“We will communicate openly and in a timely way about the vaccine rollout, so Canberrans will know when they can get the vaccine, how to get it and what to do when the time comes,” the spokesperson said.
“The ACT is looking forward to … running a safe and efficient vaccination program in partnership with the Commonwealth Government.”
The TGA is continuing to work on the regulatory review for potential approval of other vaccines, notably the AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, TGA head Adjunct Professor John Skerritt said.
Information on the COVID-19 vaccine is available from ACT Health.