Australia’s vaccine program begins next week.
With the arrival of 142,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Sydney on Monday and the approval of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration this week, all Australian adults willing to be vaccinated should be immunised by the end of October.
The Pfizer/BioNTech, which is being distributed to Australian states and territories this week and will begin being administered on 22 February, has reported that early research suggests it is effective against the new mutations of the virus. This vaccine, however, is the more difficult of the two to administer as it requires being stored at ultracold temperatures requiring specialised storage facilities. It also requires two jabs to be most effective.
Nonetheless, the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, spoke to the media and said that Australia’s vaccine rollout is just ahead of schedule.
Aged-care residents and frontline workers including quarantine and border workers, healthcare practitioners and aged care and disability staff will be among the first to receive the vaccine.
The majority of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the second vaccine to be approved for use in Australia, will actually be manufactured in-house by Melbourne company CSL. Although reports suggest that this vaccine is less effective against mutations, the Australian government has backed the vaccine highlighting its efficiency at reducing transmission. Furthermore, there have been reports that Oxford-AstraZeneca is manufacturing a second to combat these variations.
Even still, TGA head John Skerritt said the UK rollout had shown “very good results obtained with both of the major vaccines in older groups.”