South Australia is aiming to have the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country as the rollout continues for frontline workers and those most vulnerable.
SA began to administer the Pfizer vaccine on Monday with 150 people receiving the jab at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and another 50 at the Flinders Medical Centre.
About the same number of vaccinations will be administered on Tuesday with the first residents at aged care facilities in Adelaide given their initial dose.
Premier Steven Marshall said a high take-up rate among the state’s general population was an “excellent aspiration”.
“I would love South Australia to have the highest vaccination rate in the nation,” he said.
“I know that we have done extraordinarily well in terms of testing, our tracing is great, our uptake of the QR codes has been absolutely superb and we’re very grateful for that.
“Now we would love to see the best uptake of vaccinations anywhere in the country.”
SA has received 4000 doses, with 3000 to be distributed from the Royal Adelaide Hospital and 1000 from the Flinders Medical Centre.
Another 8000 doses are expected to arrive within the next three weeks.
The state’s 1700 frontline workers will be targeted first, including 500 staff at Adelaide Airport, more than 1000 people who work in Adelaide’s quarantine hotels and 50 people involved in transferring arrivals.
At the Flinders Medical Centre, staff working in the emergency department, the respiratory ward, the intensive critical care unit and the COVID-19 testing clinic will be prioritised.
Health Minister Stephen Wade said providing the vaccine to everyone in SA would be a challenge considering the size of the state and the diversity of the population.
“We appreciate that for many communities that we will need to to reach out to them that that is particularly what we’re doing with frontline health workers,” he said.
“We will also need to do it with some subgroups, for example, homeless people.
“There’ll be culturally and linguistically diverse communities that will need special effort.
“But this is a huge effort, the largest peacetime operation in South Australia.
“There will be road bumps, but there is an army of people both at the state and federal level, to make sure that every South Australian has the opportunity to have the vaccine.”
SA also remains poised to lift its remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions with Melbourne.
The state’s transition committee has been delayed until Wednesday but it is still expected to ease the travel rules from Friday morning.
Mr Marshall said some final information was being gathered in regard to the type of testing regime that might remain in place, but that was expected in the next 24 hours.
Under the existing arrangements, people coming from the Greater Melbourne area are not permitted to enter SA.
Exemptions are provided to returning local residents, people relocating permanently and essential travellers.