Australia began rolling out vaccinations against the CCP virus on Monday, after a soft launch on Sunday, saw some frontline workers and the elderly, along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, receive the Pfizer jab one day ahead of schedule.
Aged care resident Jane Malysiak, 84, from Marayong in New South Wales (NSW), was the first person in Australia to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday.
Morrison said it was a “landmark day” for Australia amid the pandemic.
“We have always made our own Australian way through this pandemic and have done so with considerable success compared with so many other countries around the world,” he said. “This vaccination program launches us down our path out of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.”
The vaccine will be provided to Australians free of charge, with 60,000 doses slated for “priority populations” first.
Since the vaccine will be first given to those “most at risk,” the government has released an eligibility checker so people can find out in which phase they’ll be able to get the jab.
“You can find it at australia.gov.au,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
The federal government, which is responsible for aged care facilities, will administer vaccinations at 240 facilities across 190 locations nationally this week.
Australia has a comprehensive plan to offer the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines to all Australians by the end of October this year.
According to Reuters, the AstraZeneca shot is a “viral vector vaccine,” where a specially engineered virus that usually causes chimpanzees to get the common cold delivers genetic instructions to the human body of what the SARS-COV-2 looks like, including its spike proteins which are jutting out from the new coronavirus’s surface.
This then provides a preview of the disease to instruct a person’s immune system to design antibodies that can neutralize the real virus if the individual is ever infected.
While the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine uses a new technology that packs messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) into tiny fat droplets, which then instruct a human’s cells on the specific spike protein.
States began to roll out vaccinations on Monday, starting with registered nurse Zoe Parker in Queensland.
Parker was the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine at Gold Coast University Hospital, where the state’s first case was reported 391 days ago.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath declared the vaccine a “new weapon” in the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
Gold Coast University Hospital is the first of six vaccination hubs and sites being set up by Queensland Health.
To the south of Queensland, in New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters it was “a truly exciting day” and a “game-changer” to see the vaccine being rolled out.
The NSW government expects to vaccinate 35,000 people across three hospital locations around Sydney over the next 3 weeks—beginning with 1,200 on Monday at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) and Westmead and Liverpool hospitals.
At first, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will roll out from Monday, followed by the AstraZeneca vaccine, from March, according to the Australian government’s immunisation strategy.
Vaccinations will be administered through health hubs and hospital vaccination clinics in each state and territory and aged care and disability care facilities across the country.
The Australian government has secured 150 million doses of the vaccines, with over 50 million AstraZeneca doses being manufactured in Melbourne.
“People will initially get the AstraZeneca vaccine at GP respiratory clinics, general practices that meet specific requirements, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, and state-run vaccination clinics,” the prime minister and health minister said in a joint statement on Sunday.
“Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines require two separate doses for a person to be fully immunised—Pfizer/BioNTech 21 days apart, and AstraZeneca 12 weeks apart.”
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMilan, and personnel from the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force, were also vaccinated on Sunday alongside Morrison.