Australia has received its first overseas shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as it looks to ramp up its national vaccination program.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Sunday that 300,000 doses of the vaccine had arrived and would be batch-tested by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with the rollout due to commence from 8 March.
“All of the safety protocols are strong and that first shipment of AstraZeneca has now arrived in Australia. Another point of hope, another point of protection,” Mr Hunt said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the COVID-19 vaccine marked a milestone achievement for Australia.
“This is the next step as we ramp up the vaccine rollout,” the Prime Minister said in a statement.
“Australia is in a unique position because importantly this vaccine gives us the ability to manufacture onshore.”
“Every Australian who wishes to be vaccinated will be able to receive a vaccine this year,” he added.
It comes after the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine began last week.
Australia is due to receive 1.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from overseas before the Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccine begins being rolled out in late March.
With overall deals for over 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the majority of them manufactured in Australia, most Australians who get vaccinated will be receiving the AstraZeneca jab.
Almost 30,000 Australians had been vaccinated since last Monday, including 8,110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.
The government is rolling out a second $31 million public information campaign with the COVID-19 vaccination program now fully underway.
The government’s initial advertising campaign launched in January focused on informing the Australian community about the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s world-leading independent approval process.
“The second round builds on these safety messages and informs the community about Phase 1a of the vaccination program rollout, which prioritises those who are the most at risk of serious illness from the virus,” Mr Hunt said.
“The advertising is important, so people understand how the vaccination program is operating, how they can find out when it will be their turn and answer any questions they have about the vaccines.”
Additional reporting by AAP.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
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