Vaccine rollout takes shape

The provisional approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has been welcomed by Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks and Business NSW Central Coast.

Wicks said the news will increase confidence in the vaccine.

“This is an important moment for the people across the Central Coast and for the whole of Australia,” Wicks said.

“The approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine comes after rigorous and independent assessment by the TGA, which shows it meets Australian standards for safety, quality and efficacy,” she said.

Business NSW Central Coast also welcomed the approval and said it would help to boost business confidence in the region.

“As the Central Coast continues to face a fragile and volatile business environment caused by the virus, a well-planned roll out of the vaccine will help business plan appropriately for the return of their employees to the workplace and provide customers with a level of confidence that should increase trade,” Regional Director Paula Martin said.

A priority group of Australians are expected to now receive their first dose of the vaccine as soon as it can be received from Pfizer and the necessary checks are undertaken by the TGA, prior to its distribution.

The vaccine will be provided free to Australians, with a priority group expected to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in late February and early March.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the TGA approval was an important step in the fight against COVID-19.

“I welcome the TGA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, with our own Australian experts finding it is safe, effective and of a high standard,” Morrison said.

“Australians should take confidence in the thorough and careful approach taken by our world-class safety regulator.

“Our priority has always been to keep Australians safe and protect lives and livelihoods.

“Today’s approval is another big step forward for our community, particularly in the protection of our most vulnerable people.”

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said he believed TGA’s processes were the best in the world.

“This approval and the upcoming roll out of the vaccine will play an important part in our ability to manage the pandemic in 2021,” Hunt said,

“Australia’s vaccination program has been based on the medical advice from the medical expert panel led by Professor Brendan Murphy.

“As a result, we are in the fortunate position of having secured 140 million doses of vaccine, one of the highest per capita rates in the world.

The Government continues to work with Pfizer on the final date of delivery of vaccines, noting that Pfizer has experienced some temporary production delays from its European manufacturing plant as it ramps up production to meet extraordinary global demand.

In Australia the vaccine will be rolled out in five phases over the coming months and, over time, will involve more than 1,000 vaccination administration sites.

The Australian Government, states and territories, regulators and the health and medical sectors are working together to finalise arrangements under the Australian Vaccination Strategy and detailed roll out plans.

First to be vaccinated will include aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline health care workers, and quarantine and border workers.

Terry Collins