The focus of the first weeks of vaccine use will be more than 183,000 residents in 2,600 nursing homes, as well as residents of disability and quarantine care and border staff.
Frontline healthcare workers will also begin receiving the vaccines, while the nation’s 339,000 senior care personnel are expected to be vaccinated in the first six weeks of the spread.
Department of Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said the lack of community broadcasting meant Australia should not rush their spread.
OK it’s okay to take four or five weeks to vaccinate all residents of age care, he said.
We have no community broadcast in Australia, we do not have a burning platform, so we can go as fast as we can safely and embark on this really, really exciting journey.
Choosing which nursing homes to go to first included a complex logistical plan covering staff movements and vaccine delivery, as well as ensuring the right mix of urban, regional and rural locations, Professor Murphy said.
For people of residential age and disability care, the government was working with operators to arrange vaccination times. These facilities would provide information about the process to residents, their families and staff.
Paramedics, the COVID-19 testing facility and GP Respiratory Clinic staff will be among the first healthcare workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Clinical staff, medical students and administrative staff working in hospital emergency departments, COVID-19 and respiratory wards, intensive care units and high dependency units will also be set up first.
Professor Murphy said these workers were selected because in the event of transmission to the community, they would be the ones who would be in contact with the infected patients.
Those health care workers, as well as quarantine and border staff, will be immunized at the hospital vaccination centers. Health workers will find out when they get vaccinated through their state health departments.
In the first week, 80,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered to hospitals and care centers for the elderly and disabled. The federal government will use 30,000 for nursing homes, and 50,000 will be allocated between states and territories for quarantine workers and health personnel on the front line.
The government is allowing 25 percent of 80,000 doses to be lost for loss through vial fracture, transportation or other issues.
We were looking at 60,000 doses that were actually administered … but it could be higher than that, Mr. Hunt said.
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Rachel Clun is a federal political reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, covering health.
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