Vaccination against the coronavirus is expected to start in the Geelong region from as soon as the middle of this month, and Barwon Health has started hiring extra staff and identifying who will be first in line for the injections.
The Pfizer vaccine has been given provisional approval for use in Australia, and the yet-to-be-approved AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be available at some point in March.
According to the federal Department of Health, Phase 1A of the vaccination rollout will distribute up to 1.4 million doses.
In a post on its Facebook page, Barwon Health says the first priority for the Barwon South West region will include immunisation teams, quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers, and staff and residents in aged care and disability care.
“The majority of low-risk workers will receive immunisation through a combination of GPs, pharmacists and mass immunisation centres,” the post read.
“Led by the new Public Health Unit, Barwon Health has commenced hiring and upskilling additional staff for the immunisation process, as part of the planning process in collaboration with local health services and the Primary Health Network, on behalf of general practitioners.”
The federal government has also announced some measures to quicken the vaccination process.
At the weekend, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government would offer an expression of interest to all of Australia’s 5,800 community pharmacies to take part in Phase 2A of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which is expected to issue up to 15.8 million doses.
Mr Hunt said he expected the full rollout of to be completed by October.
“We’re always subject to shipping and international events and TGA approvals, but the latest advice is that the AstraZeneca assessment will be completed on time and on track by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and subject to that we hope to be able to commence the AstraZeneca in early March and the Pfizer in late February,” he said.
On Monday this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said $1.9 billion had been slated for the vaccine rollout, on top of the more than $4.4 billion allocated for vaccine purchases, medical support and support for partner countries.
Access to the COVID-19 vaccine will be free, but it will not be mandatory.
To discover more information about the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout and its phases, head to health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-vaccinated-for-covid-19/who-will-get-the-vaccines.