The first vaccine doses rollout in Australia will be the Pfizer jab, which will be dispensed from hospital hubs because it has to be stored at ultra-low temperatures.
They’ll be reserved for healthcare workers, frontline staff such as airline and hotel quarantine employees, and aged care and disability care staff and residents.
The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which has been granted provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), will be shipped to Australia from Europe in late February at a rate of 80,000 per week.
The broader vaccine rollout will use the AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored at regular refrigeration temperatures at GP clinics and pharmacies.
Australians aged over 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55, people with a disability or underlying medical conditions, emergency services workers and other high-risk groups, such as meat processing workers, will be prioritised for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is still waiting for TGA approval, but 1.2 million doses are expected to be shipped to Australia from Europe in early March.
Local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine by CSL will begin in late March and will produce 1 million doses a week.
Altogether, Australia will have access to 50 million doses of vaccines — enough to support two jabs for Australia’s population and Pacific countries.
Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines require two doses for each person.
The vaccine will be free for all Medicare-eligible Australians and while it is not mandatory, the Federal Government wants as many Australians as possible to get inoculated.
Mr Hunt noted the global rate of new infections had eased in recent weeks, with the rolling seven-day average of new cases from around 700,000 to around 550,000.
“That is the first significant signs of drop in global cases,” he said.
“There is a lot more to go and there will be ups and there will be downs, but this is a sustained drop in global cases.”