When and where you can get jab

An Aussie healthcare hero who helped treat the nation’s first COVID-19 case was among the first in line for the jab this morning.

After 13 long months battling the coronavirus pandemic, Australia’s national vaccination program has finally kicked off today.

The first person to get the vaccine in Melbourne was Monash Health medical director for infection prevention Rhonda Stuart, who got her first dose first thing this morning.

Professor Stuart and her team treated the first Australian coronavirus patient – a traveller who returned from the pandemic’s ground zero of Wuhan, China last January.

She told the ABC she was “proud” to get the vaccination and help launch “the next chapter” in Australia’s virus fight.

“And now our aim is to get all the healthcare workers vaccinated, and then out to the public as well,” she said.

“It’s amazing that we’ve got to the stage where we can be vaccinating people to protect ourselves against it.”

While February 22 marks the official launch date of the historic vaccination rollout, a lucky few – including Prime Minister Scott Morrison – already received their jab over the weekend.

Aged care resident Jane Malysiak, 84, from Marayong NSW, was the first person in the country to receive the jab, with Mr Morrison receiving his shot soon after in a televised event.

Around 1.4 million doses will be administered to those deemed in greatest need in the weeks ahead, including aged care facility residents and frontline health and quarantine workers.

Up to 60,000 Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses will be given in the next week alone, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt, and the government aims to have all willing adults vaccinated against coronavirus by October.

There will be special vaccination clinics set up at hospitals in every state and territory, and in aged care and disability care facilities across Australia.

The number of locations will increase as more doses arrive in the country.

“We have always made our own Australian way through this pandemic and have done so with considerable success compared with so many other countries around the world,” Mr Morrison said in a statement following the rollout launch.

“This vaccination program launches us down our path out of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

“Every Australian will be given the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge that has been proven to be safe and effective by our own medical experts.”

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Mr Morrison said while the government’s first priority was to vaccinate the “most vulnerable” as well as “frontline workers who are protecting all of us”, everybody would have the chance to get the free vaccination within months.

“As we rollout the COVID-19 vaccines across the country, we will be asking as many Australians as possible to come forward to be vaccinated, to protect themselves, their families and their communities from this highly infectious disease,” he said.

Phase 1B of the rollout will begin next month, when up to 14.8 million doses will start to be administered to those aged 70 and above, other health care workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55, adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability and critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.

Under Phase 2A, adults aged between 50 and 69 will be eligible, along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18-54 other critical and high risk workers, while the rest of us will be able to get our jabs under Phase 2B later this year.

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COVID-19 vaccinations arrive at Hobart on Qantas flight QF1023. Picture: Chris Kidd
COVID-19 vaccinations arrive at Hobart on Qantas flight QF1023. Picture: Chris Kidd

Authorities are also looking into a potential Phase 3, which would include children aged under 16 if recommended.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said vaccines were being prioritised “so those most at risk, and those most vulnerable, can get access first”.

“The Australian Government has given clear advice on the phases showing who will have access when,” he said.

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

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

Originally published as When and where you can get jab

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