The coronavirus vaccine rollout for Australians has been brought forward to February, so givvus your longest ‘yeah boi’ ever and start rolling up those sleeves.
Addressing media on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the first vaccines will be administered to high risk groups in mid- to late-February, earlier than the previously discussed March timeline.
“Our officials have been moving swiftly and safely to introduce the vaccine in Australia as soon as is safely possible,” Morrison said.
“We anticipate, optimistically, that we would hope to start the vaccination with 80,000 people a week.”
The vaccine rollout will happen in five stages, with frontline health workers, workers dealing with international arrivals and quarantine, aged care and disability workers, and those living in aged care or with a disability among the first Aussies to get the jab.
Children will be the last to receive the vaccine.
The target is to have four million people vaccinated by the end of March.
“This will of course remain conditional on a number of important factors, most importantly that final TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] approval and the delivery of the vaccine from our suppliers,” Morrison said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be approved by the end of January, after which time Pfizer will send the vaccine over – a process that takes two weeks. Australia has already bought 10 million doses of this one.
The AstraZeneca vaccine timeline is a little less certain, but Morrison said it’s looking like it’ll be approved in February.
The government has secured 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, meaning that once it’s approved, the timeline for everyone to be jabbed speeds up. (We’re also manufacturing it onshore, so we have a guaranteed supply line.)
Right now, the vaccine is voluntary for Australians, although it’s likely travel will be more difficult for Aussies who refuse to get the jab without a medical reason.