Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program will be fast-tracked so frontline healthcare workers and high risk groups can start receiving the jab by next month.
Scott Morrison this morning announced the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was now expected to be given pre-approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration by the end of January, paving the way for the vaccination program to kick off in mid-to-late February.
Mr Morrison said it was hoped 80,000 Australians could be vaccinated per week.
The Government had previously said the vaccine would be rolled out in March.
For the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Government expects the pre-approval to be issued by February.
“There have been no delays in the introduction of the vaccine in Australia. There has been the necessary swiftness that has been asked of the TGA and health officials driving this process,” Mr Morrison said.
However, he warned the arrival of the vaccine did not signal the end of the fight against COVID-19.
“Vaccination is not a silver bullet once vaccination starts. COVID-safe practices do not end, they continue. They will be a 2021 lived experience, they continue,” Mr Morrison said.
Federal Health Department secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said the goal was to administer four million jabs of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of March.
Thirty to 50 hubs across the country will be be set up to deliver the Pfizer vaccine. Separate hubs would be set up for the AstraZeneca version.
“By the end of March we hope to have at least four million doses, and then we will ramp up further and expand to the population more broadly,” he said.
“That will enable a rapid roll-out. We will expand that to a significantly broader range of the at-risk population.
“Assuming all those things go well, in mid-to-late February we can start our phase one roll-out.”