The first 300,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab landed at Sydney airport last Sunday.
The AstraZeneca vaccines will be batch tested by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and their rollout is set to begin by next Monday, says Minister for Health Greg Hunt.
“It’s an important step, always subject to the quality testing, always subject to the TGA, but at this stage all of the safety protocols are strong, and that first shipment of AstraZeneca has now arrived in Australia, another point of hope, another point of protection,” Hunt said.
These are the first doses of the 3.8 million expected to arrive from Oxford/AstraZeneca production centres in Europe, while Australian partner company CSL will produce an extra 50 million doses locally.
CSL expects to release 2 million doses by the end of March and then 1 million doses per week after that.
Oxford/AstraZeneca is the second COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in Australia after 142,000 doses (of 20 million ordered) of the Pfizer jab that came earlier in February.
Pfizer inoculation began on Sunday 21 February, when 84-year-old Jane Malysiak was the first Australian to receive the vaccine. Over the next week, more than 30,000 people have received a shot. These are quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers, aged and disability care residents and staff.
So, how are we doing?
With just over 30,000 doses administered nationwide by the end of February, not so good – if you consider the prime minister’s vaccine forecast delivered in January.
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and check in on the numbers again next week.
COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered in 3 phases, giving priority to health care and quarantine workers, the elderly and people with underlining disease. The Department of Health has made available a COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker everyone can use to see in which phase they will be eligible to receive a vaccine.
The government expects to deliver 4 million doses by March and to inoculate every Australia by October. The vaccine is voluntary and free for everyone living in Australia.
Dr Manuela Callari is a Sydney-based freelance science writer who specialises in health and medical stories.
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