Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Questions without Notice
I have been asked to withdraw an assertion that Senator Payne knew about the cover-up for two years. If she is telling us she didn't know, I withdraw. And I invite every other minister to make the same assertion to the Senate—that they didn't know.
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Colbeck. Can the minister please update the Senate on the Morrison government's comprehensive plan to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines across Australia?
Thank you, Senator Small, for your question. Rolling out the COVID vaccine across the country is one of the government's highest priorities, and 142,000 doses of the COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived at Sydney Airport on Monday, a major milestone in Australia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first shipment out of 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine the government has secured as part of Australia's COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy.
The country is on track for the first and most vulnerable Australians to start receiving the vaccine from Monday. Approximately 80,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be released in the first week. Approximately 50,000 vaccines will be made available to states and territories for hotel quarantine and border workers and frontline healthcare workers. Approximately 30,000 vaccines will be made available for the Commonwealth vaccine in-reach workforce to aged-care and disability care residents. It is expected that, of these, at least 60,000 will be administered by the end of February, with others to be continually administered thereafter, including to our most vulnerable residents in more than 240 aged-care facilities next week.
Suppressing the virus, delivering the vaccine and cementing our economic recovery to create jobs are this government's highest priorities.
We have prioritised the most vulnerable people in our society to receive the COVID-19 vaccine first. The most vulnerable include our frontline workers and our senior Australians. They will be part of Phase 1a. As I have just outlined, it's on track to roll out next week. Phase 1b will include adults over 70 years; other health-care workers; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55; younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability; and high-risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat-processing workers. Phase 2a includes adults aged 50 to 69 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 to 54 years and other critical and high-risk workers. Phase 2b expands to the remainder of the Australian population.
The activation of the vaccination process into aged care is a significant logistical exercise for the government but also for aged-care providers. Information has been sent out to aged-care facilities, for residents, their families, their carers and their loved ones, about what to expect in the lead-up to and on vaccination day. Our clinical workforce will work very closely with each facility in the lead-up to vaccination day to make sure the day runs safely and efficiently. Clinical staff at facilities will check the health of residents prior to administering the vaccine, and each residential aged-care facility will ask residents and their substitute decision-makers, if there's one in place, to consent to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. I met with providers and their representatives again this morning and engaged in a very active and constructive discussion with respect to the rollout. The rollout is a significant logistical exercise for all involved, and I want to thank them for their support and efforts to roll out this— (Time expired)