Roll up your sleeves for the jab, because the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) has just approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered in Australia. But what does that mean exactly, and is there anything we’re still not sure about?
Well, here’s a collection of everything that we do and do not know about the rollout of the jab.
First, the TGA tick of approval only lasts two years, and will then be re-examined. This is why the approval has been called ‘provisional’. We do also know that the guidelines on administering the vaccine recommend two doses, 21 days apart.
So when do we get the Pfizer vaccine?
Well, there are no concrete dates so far, although government officials have said its likely to roll out in ‘late February’.
“I spoke last night with the regional and Australian heads of Pfizer and they indicated… that we are likely to have, on their shipping advice which they have now been able to confirm, first vaccines in Australia, ready for distribution in late February,” Minister for Health Greg Hunt said in a press conference on Monday.
“This approval and the upcoming rollout of the vaccine will play an important part in our ability to manage the pandemic in 2021.”
The first people to get the vaccine will be frontline and healthcare workers, then aged care workers, seniors and those in vulnerable communities. Only then will the vaccine be made available to everyone aged 16 and over, but a date for the wider rollout has not been set.
Is the Pfizer vaccine free/effective?
The vaccine will be bulk-billed by GPs, so is likely to be free or at least heavily subsidised by Medicare.
The Government has purchased ten million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will vaccinate five million people. The Department of Health has said that when there is more supply available, they may purchase more doses. The Pfizer doses are not yet in the country.
If you’re worried about effectiveness, the Pfizer vaccine has been proven to be around 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 after multiple trials.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being produced in Melbourne, will reportedly be available in April, but has yet to be approved by officials.
What else do we know about the Pfizer vaccine?
Australia will also be helping to administer the vaccine in the Pacific, as confirmed by PM Scott Morrison in a press conference on Monday. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne is currently in talks with Pacific leader.
Finally, ScoMo also confirmed that there is still “far more to learn” about the vaccine, as we don’t currently know its full effects on the human body. But don’t go reaching for your Pete Evans tinfoil hat just yet, because the vaccine has been confirmed to be very safe, and free of any mind control microchips.
The ‘far more to learn’ applies to its effects on pregnant women, and whether or not the vaccine prevents the transmission of the virus. According to Professor Brendan Murphy, however, the vaccine is definitely confirmed to prevent clinical disease and death, which is a very big plus.
So yeah, that’s all we know so far. It’s definitely good news that the vaccine has been approved. Jab me up, Scotty.