Vaccine jabs begin before end of month

At least 80,000 coronavirus vaccine doses will land in Australia by the end of next week, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.

“Vaccines are scheduled to land in Australia before the end of the week, if not earlier,” he told reporters on Sunday.

He said the 80,000 figure was at the low end and it was possible even more doses would arrive in the first week.

“We have always been cautious and always working quietly behind the scenes for more. But what we do is we set what we regard as a confirmed minimum and if we are able to achieve on the upside, I think that is more doses for more Australians,” Mr Hunt said.

He said the US pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer would deliver 3 million doses during April to June.

Mr Hunt also said vaccinations are on track to begin before the end of the month.

Once the vaccine doses arrive, officials will do quality checks to make sure they haven’t been compromised during shipment. That includes making sure they have been kept at the correct temperature and that no seals have been broken.

“The guidance then is that there has to be (Therapeutic Goods Administration) assessment, damage assessment, quality control and we are on track for commencement in the last week of February,” Mr Hunt said.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Hunt announced the government has developed a plan to make sure accurate vaccination information reaches everyone in Australia, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The federal government will spend $1.3 million on the project, Mr Hunt said. It forms part of a $31 million plan to disseminate public information related to the coronavirus vaccine.

“(It’s) for the communities, multicultural Australian communities to themselves lead their own outreach,” Mr Hunt said.

“So it’s grassroots, but it’s also very interestingly being designed with common themes, but appropriate messaging for each community.”

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