Fri, 8 Jan, 2021

What to expect from the COVID vaccine coming soon

What to expect from the COVID vaccine coming soon

The coronavirus vaccine will be available to Australians soon and once it does – we can expect major changes to the way we live, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.

The government is moving towards a five-stage rollout of the vaccine, with the minister telling A Current Affair that the first two stages will include the nation's highest risk groups starting from as early as mid-February.

"And following that we have the over 80s, the over 70s, other health workers, indigenous Australians over 55, and then we move to the next group which has a range of critical workers and those over 50," Mr Hunt said.

"And then finally we have the last of the balance of the population.

"We'll complete all Australians who seek to have the vaccine by October."

The politician says the Commonwealth testing and vaccination clinics, the state vaccination clinics and state hospitals will be the ones delivering the Pfizer vaccines.

General practices will play a fundamental role in the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Mr Hunt says they have every confidence in their vaccine, and have ensured it is safe for Australians.

"We are working to a full approvals process and that's the important thing for Australians," he said.

"We're making sure that all the assessments all the approvals will been done.

"We've been quietly working on our best-case scenario but never pledging it until we were certain we could deliver it and so we started off by setting expectations cautiously and safely about the second half of the year."

Mr Hunt says he believes the rollout will go smoothly.

"I think we only need to look at what we've done with testing as a nation there are 11.75 million tests that have been done across Australia and that's a partnership with the states and territories," he said.

The minister says introducing travel bans to countries with mutant strains of COVID-19 will be decided soon.

"The medical expert panel has been meeting yesterday and today and so they're considering a range of activities including whether its preflight testing, whether its changes in relation to quarantine for somebody who tests positive or in relation to flight access to Australia," Minister Hunt said.

"They'll be providing that advice to the national cabinet later this evening for discussion tomorrow."