Hunt: ‘I’m confident Australians will take up the vaccine’
Australia is about to embark on one of the most important public health initiatives in our nation's history. The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will be a massive endeavour - a logistical public health exercise of unparalleled scope and scale, public health or otherwise, that will make it as easy as possible for everyone who wants to get the free vaccine to get it.
Getting the vaccination is both an individual and a collective responsibility. The vaccine will help prevent us from getting sick if we are infected with COVID-19. It will keep people out of hospital. It will prevent people from dying. It will improve lives. It will save lives. It is a key step in progressively unlocking our borders, our businesses, our homes and our lives.
With these two highly powerful motivators - reuniting families and the national interest - I believe strongly that vaccine uptake is critical. It will help shift the balance in the ongoing fight against this highly infectious disease. Early results from emergency use overseas have been positive.
As we have since the beginning of this pandemic, we are learning more about COVID-19 and these vaccines every day. We may not have all the data we want, but what we do have can give us confidence in the vaccines we are offering to the Australian people.
Here in Australia, we have secured more than 150 million doses of vaccine. That's enough to cover the Australian population several times over. We have four separate agreements for the supply of vaccines once they have been fully approved as safe and effective, including 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 53.8 million doses of AstraZeneca, and 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, plus our purchasing options through the international group called COVAX.
Our national medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has approved the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccines. If the TGA approves vaccines then we can be confident they are safe and effective.
It's clearly impossible for everyone to get the vaccine at the same time. So we're rolling it out in phases.
First up, starting from Monday, will be the people in phase 1a who need protection the most - our frontline heroes who are protecting all of us, aged-care and disability-care workers and residents, and quarantine and border workers. This group will get the vaccine at selected hospitals, and from vaccination teams that will take the vaccine around the country, including into aged-care homes.
Following this group will be those in phase 1b, which includes people over 70,
our wider healthcare workforce, critical and high-risk workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability.
Once phase 1a and 1b are well covered, we will commence the second phase of our vaccination program, starting with over-60s, over-50s and then the balance of the population.
We'll have thousands of sites for people to receive the vaccine. You'll be able to get it from a GP, pharmacy, state vaccination clinic, respiratory clinic, or Aboriginal health service.
The vaccine requires two doses, and you will have a personal record that states you've completed the vaccinations.
Our aim is to offer all Australians the opportunity to be vaccinated by the end of October this year. I am confident Australians will take up the COVID-19 vaccine. We have shown ourselves to be a vaccination nation, with one of the highest immunisation rates in the world. Australians overwhelmingly understand that vaccination works and rightly trust in our regulatory processes.
The major factor that has put Australia in such a solid position in dealing with the pandemic - indeed, the envy of the world - is the Australian people. The community has been magnificent. I cannot overstate how important Australians' resilience, strength of character, and generosity of spirit and action have been to the success of the nation's response. We have understood, as individuals and as a nation that we have a contribution to make. Australians have made the difference. The Australian way has sustained us at every turn - and we now draw on that again with this vaccine rollout.
Originally published as Hunt: 'I'm confident Australians will take up the COVID vaccine'