Pfizer vaccine arrives in Australia


Australia’s first doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine have arrived in the country.

The shipment came via a Singapore Airlines flight that landed at Sydney’s international airport shortly after noon on Monday. The doses were then taken to a secure location.

Health Minister Greg Hunt triumphantly revealed the development saying “the eagle has landed”.

“The advice that I have is that 142,000 doses have arrived in Australia,” Mr Hunt said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration will now test the vaccines to ensure they meet Australia’s strict quality standards ahead of a vaccine rollout beginning from February 22.

Mr Hunt said about 60,000 vaccines were expected to be administered by the end of February.

About 50,000 doses will be allocated to the states, who will prioritise hotel quarantine workers and frontline health workers most likely to come into contact with positive international arrivals.

An additional 30,000 doses will be made available for elderly and disability residents, their carers and staff.

The second dose of the vaccine will be administered at 21 days after the first.

At least 62,000 doses from the initial shipment will be set aside in case there are issues accessing second doses in subsequent weeks.

Next in line will be people aged over 80, then aged over 70, those who are immunocompromised, some Indigenous Australians and critical workers.

Australia has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Shipments containing 50,000 doses are now expected to arrive weekly.

A vaccine operation centre has also been established in Canberra to ensure that the rollout is effective.

“While we’re taking the time to get the rollout right, I am confident all Australians who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will receive a vaccine this year,” Mr Morrison said.

The prime minister will be among people in the first priority group to get the Pfizer vaccine, while Mr Hunt will be part of the first group to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine – when it is approved.

Mr Hunt said if given the green light, the number of doses being given per week would double by early March.

Most of the population is expected to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be manufactured onshore.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said he would “take either of the vaccinations”.

Earlier in the day, opposition health spokesman Mark Butler criticised the government for not rolling the vaccines out sooner.

“We’re now into the second half of February and still not a single Australian has received a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” Mr Butler said.

“Today is three weeks since the Therapeutic Goods Administration approve the Pfizer vaccine.”

He said critical details, including when Australians would receive the vaccines, remained unclear.



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