Monday, 22 February 2021
Questions without Notice
COVID 19: Vaccine
My question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Will the minister update the House on the Morrison government's vaccine rollout, which commenced today? Who will be receiving the vaccine as part of the first phase of this Australian approach?
I want to thank the member for Moncrieff not just for her question but for her support for COVID measures and the vaccination program and also the potential that that brings to give greater freedom to Australians: the ability to manage cases as we deal with the impact of the vaccine in reducing the risk of serious illness, of hospitalisation, of loss of life and therefore the ability to maintain the openness of our internal borders and support communities such as hers. In doing this, we've taken the advice of the medical experts and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, which has helped us identify five phases for the rollout. This first phase, 1a, has been focused on three particular groups: the frontline border and quarantine workers, which will represent approximately 70,000 Australians; our frontline health workers such as Maddie, whom I mentioned earlier, of which there are approximately 100,000; and then the balance of the over 670,000 Australians who will be in this phase 1a group will be our aged-care residents, our disability care residents and the heroic staff that have been taking care of them. It will provide that care and protection for them.
Then we'll move to phase 1b. In common with much of the world because the nature of COVID is such that it is a greater risk to those that are older, we begin with the over-80s, the over-70s and the immunocompromised. We deal with those in this group that include Indigenous Australians over the age of 55 and then critical emergency service workers.
We then move to phase 2. Phase 2 also has at its heart an age based allocation, to the over-60s, the over-50s, other critical workers and Indigenous Australians under 55 years of age.
Then we move to the balance of the adult population and also allow for the fact that we recognise that there will be Australians who are seeking to catch up, who may not have been in a position to have had the vaccination earlier or who may have changed their views and developed more confidence. We urge all Australians to have confidence in the safety of the vaccines and their efficacy as set out by the World Health Organization, as set out in The Lancet journal, as set out by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and as seen in real-world examples across the globe.
Finally, if clinical trials represent it, we would move to children.
But all of this is about making sure that, at the end of the day, every Australian has the opportunity to be vaccinated.