Good news for those of us keen on not contracting a horrible life-threatening illness: the expected time frame for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is being brought forward a fortnight. Happy new year!
Let’s back up for a minute. As you probably know, the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations are already in full swing in several places overseas, where governments have issued orders to start immunisations right away. (ICYMI, I urge you to watch this post-jab interview with 91-year-old Londoner Martin Kenyon who insists there’s “no point dying now”.)
According to PM Scott Morrison, Australia is taking a more ‘slow and steady’ approach to vaccinating the population. “We are moving this as swiftly and as safely as it can be done, but Australia is not an emergency situation so we don’t have to cut corners,” he said on Melbourne radio station 3AW.
While the government has secured multiple vaccines, including the Pfizer and University of Oxford vaccine, they will still need to be approved for by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and undergo testing before any of us can get a jab.
The federal government had originally planned for the TGA to approve the vaccines later this month, with vaccinations to kick off in late March 2021. But Health Minister Greg Hunt reckons new health advice means that the government will now plan for the vaccine to start rolling out in early March.
So does that mean we’ll all be immune to COVID-19 in two short months? Not necessarily. According to ABC News, Minister Hunt says the early doses of the vaccine would go to frontline workers and those exposed to overseas travellers. The order in which the vaccine would be administered to other priority groups and the remainder of the population was "still being finalised". Also worth noting is that people will need two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, spaced three to four weeks apart.
So unless you’re in a priority group, it’s unlikely you’ll be getting full protection against COVID-19 on March 1st.
But hey, at one point we didn’t know if we’d be getting a vaccine at all. So, overall? Pretty great news.
Written by Reena Gupta, a Melbourne-based writer at MTV Australia. Follow her at @purpletank