Around 30,000 aged care residents and staff are expected to receive a coronavirus jab next week when the government kicks off the mass vaccination program.
More than 142,000 Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Australia on Monday ready for distribution after the Therapeutic Goods Administration completes safety checks and batch testing.
The government has announced a rollout of 80,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is on track to start on Monday 22 February.
It includes 30,000 doses for aged care residents and staff at 240 aged care facilities in the first week of the rollout, said Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt.
“Vaccination for residents and staff will be made available through residential aged care facilities where they live or work, and it will be administered through an in-reach workforce provider,” Mr Hunt said.
The vaccination program aims to reach around 183,000 residents and 339,000 staff at more than 2,600 residential aged care facilities.
Mr Hunt said the program would begin in every state and territory and include regional and rural facilities and take approximately six weeks.
“Healthcare Australia will be providing the vaccination workforce in New South Wales and Queensland, and Aspen Medical will be responsible for the other states and territories,” Mr Hunt said.
He said the primary health network in each region would support the Commonwealth Government to deliver to each facility in their area.
Residential aged care facilities will be grouped, up to a maximum of eight facilities within a 30 kilometre radius to ensure efficient delivery of the vaccine.
Another 50,000 vaccines will be allocated to the state and territories for hotel quarantine and border staff and frontline healthcare workers.
Approximately 62,000 vaccines will be set aside to ensure consistent supply and sufficient stock for the second doses, which will be administered 21 days after the first dose.
Minister for senior Australians and aged care services Richard Colbeck said the Commonwealth government was leading the residential aged care vaccination program.
“We are consulting with relevant peak bodies and state and territory governments, but the responsibilities are clearly delineated so all parties understand their role in this critical and complex program,” Mr Colbeck said.
“The New South Wales, Victorian and the South Australian governments will maintain responsibility for vaccinating residents and staff of the public sector residential aged care and disability care facilities in their state,” he said.
Everyone responsible for providing the vaccine in aged care settings will be required to have completed the relevant training, including on the use of multi-dose vials, cold storage and infection control, the ministers said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that the government will also have 53.8 million does of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 51 million doses of Novavax pending TGA approval.
On Tuesday, the TGA approved AstraZeneca for individuals aged 18 or over.
“Each is sufficient to vaccinate every Australian who chooses to be vaccinated in 2021,” Mr Morrison said.
“The Australian Government has also signed up to the international COVAX facility, which provides access to a range of vaccines to immunise up to 50 per cent of the Australian population,” he said.
This story was updated with new information.