From Woy Woy to Rockingham: the who, what and where of the initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout02/18/2021
A small army of specialised nurses will travel to 190 towns around the country to deliver the first Pfizer vaccines to residents in aged and disability care from Monday, as 16 state-run hospital hubs prepare to inoculate frontline workers.
Woy Woy in NSW, Bendigo in Victoria, Bundaberg in Queensland, Rockingham in Western Australia, Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and Burnie in Tasmania are among the first towns that will receive the vaccine under the federal government’s phase 1a plan outlined on Thursday.
Health Minister Greg Hunt unveiled more detail about phase 1a of the vaccine rollout on Thursday.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
Health Minister Greg Hunt said this was just the beginning of the vaccination process.
“We begin the task of providing more hope and more protection to Australians going forward,” he told a press conference.
The focus of the first few weeks of the vaccine rollout will be the more than 183,000 residents at 2600 aged care homes, as well as residents of disability care homes and quarantine and border staff.
Frontline healthcare workers will also start receiving vaccinations, while the nation’s 339,000 aged care staff are expected to be vaccinated in the first six weeks of the rollout.
Health Department secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said the lack of community transmission meant Australia did not have to rush the rollout.
“It is OK to take four or five weeks to vaccinate all the aged care residents,” he said.
“We have no community transmission in Australia, we don’t have a burning platform, so we can go as fast as we safely can do and embark on this really, really exciting journey.”
Picking which aged care facilities would go first involved a complex logistics plan covering staff movements and vaccine distribution, as well as ensuring the right mix of urban, regional and rural locations, Professor Murphy said.
For people in residential aged and disability care, the government was working with operators to organise vaccination times. Those facilities would provide information about the process to the residents, their families and staff.
Paramedics, COVID-19 testing facility and GP respiratory clinic staff will be among the first healthcare workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Clinical staff, medical students and administrative staff who work in hospital emergency departments, COVID-19 and respiratory wards, intensive care units and high dependency units will also be up first.
Professor Murphy said these workers were chosen because in the event of community transmission, they would be the ones to come in contact with infected patients.
Those healthcare workers, as well as quarantine and border staff, will be immunised at hospital vaccination hubs. Healthcare workers will find out when they’re getting vaccinated through their state health departments.
In the first week, 80,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed through hospital hubs and to aged care and disability facilities. The federal government will use 30,000 for aged care homes, and 50,000 will be split between the states and territories for quarantine workers and frontline health staff.
The government is allowing for 25 per cent of the 80,000 doses to be lost to wastage through vial breakage, transport or other issues.
“We’re looking at 60,000 doses actually being administered … but it may well be higher than that,” Mr Hunt said.
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