Thursday, 25 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is also to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Colbeck. Can the minister update the Senate on the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout and how this is underpinning our health and economic recovery?
Thank you, Senator Fawcett, for your question. It has been an important week for all Australians. We are now into day 4 of the mass vaccine rollout across the country. We are prioritising the most vulnerable in society, as we should, to receive the vaccine first. Aged-care residents, border, quarantine and frontline health workers have the opportunity to have their first dose of the vaccine this week. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccines require two separate doses for a person to be fully immunised: Pfizer-BioNTech, 21 days apart, and AstraZeneca, 12 weeks apart. Phase 1a remains on track for the first round of doses to be delivered within a six-week period. Under the Australian government's plan, quarantine and border workers and aged-care residents are on track to be vaccinated by April.
You can be assured the vaccine rollout is well underway in your home state of South Australia, Senator Fawcett. I'm advised that 933 people have had their first dose in South Australia, and we expect those figures to ramp up significantly as weeks progress. We thank all Australians, particularly the frontline health workers for their commitment and hard work in rolling out this vaccine across the country. Our vaccination program will underpin our health and economic recovery.
The aged-care rollout is part of phase 1a. It will progressively ramp up as the week progresses. One of the things that we have asked the providers to do is to start cautiously to make sure that things are moving progressively. There have been more than 17,500 vaccines reported to the Commonwealth as having been administered across the country. So far this week our vaccination teams have visited 71 residential aged-care facilities, and almost 4,700 residents have received the vaccine. We expect healthcare teams to visit an additional 20 facilities today and to vaccinate a further 1,600 residents. In coming weeks, the program will reach more than 2,600 residential aged-care facilities and more than 183,000 residents and 339,000 staff.
Thank you, Senator Fawcett. Data is coming in from around the world on other countries' vaccine rollout. For example, there are very encouraging results coming out of Scotland. Among Scotland's 5.4 million people, they've administered over one million doses of vaccines. They're using the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine, as is Australia.
The study has looked at the numbers admitted to hospital with COVID and those that have had the vaccine and those who have not. Research led by Public Health Scotland found that at four weeks, after the first dose, hospital admissions were reduced by 85 per cent for the Pfizer vaccine and 94 per cent for AstraZeneca jabs. So these are very encouraging early results—two leading vaccines that work against the severe end of the spectrum. There's further evidence it's working in a real-world setting, so very encouraging news.