How the COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out in regional Australia

How the government is planning to rollout COVID-19 vaccine in regional Australia

Health
Aa

"It could be quite a variable rollout depending on where you are," the Regional Health Minister said.

Aa

Planning the logistics of rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to the millions people who live in regional Australia is underway.

Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said the government was using every resource it could get its hands on to ensure the rollout went as smoothly as possible.

People near larger regional centres can expect to get the jab from their local hospital, pharmacy, general practitioner or respiratory clinic.

For more remote communities without the necessary facilities, the Aboriginal Medical Service could be utilised, or a team of doctors and nurses may be flown out to set up a clinic.

"It will be a very broad brush approach," Mr Coulton said.

"There's 50 million needles that need to go to 25 million people, so we're pooling all our resources to get this done in a timely way."

In an operation that large, Mr Coulton said there would be the "odd hiccup", but for the most part it "should be straight forward".

"Every effort is being made in the planning process to make sure those disturbances are as minimal as possible and that all issues that might pop up are dealt with before they become a problem," he said.

The Pfizer vaccine must be kept at -70 degrees and the government has already begun purchasing specialised containers for transport and storage.

"We've formed a partnership with DHL and Linfox to supply the logistics, which have been planned really well, so the -70 degrees isn't as big of an issue as people might think," Mr Coulton said.

"It's important to note that once the Pfizer vaccine thaws out, it still has a lifetime of five days. Once it's prepared for injection, it's got four hours.

"So there will be enough time in the system once it's thawed out it can be moved around in an eski or a box of ice to get it out into those smaller communities."

Read also: When you are exempt from wearing a mask

At the start of the pandemic, Mr Coulton formed a roundtable with representatives of regional health organisations.

They were recently briefed about the planning process and once the rollout begins, they'll meet more regularly to point out any problems and deal with them quickly.

"It was really useful in the early days [of COVID], like for issues around personal protective equipment and we were able to get on top of things very quickly, because we had direct contact with the on-the-ground workforce," Mr Coulton said.

A detailed town-by-town plan of the roll is yet to be put together, but Mr Coulton said it would be widely advertised to locals when it was ready.

"It could be quite a variable rollout depending on where you are," Mr Coulton said.

"The key point is the planning underway and when time comes you'll be notified. Don't worry what it looks like, it will be abundantly clear what the process will be once it's ready."

Aa