‘Be patient’ as new vaccine phase begins

A vaccination blitz of year 12 students begins in Victoria on Monday.

A vaccination blitz of year 12 students begins in Victoria on Monday. Photo: AAP

Australians are being asked to be patient as the next stage of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins.

More than six million Australians are now eligible to receive their jabs.

As of Monday, phase 1b of the program takes in everyone over the age of 70, along with Indigenous Australians over 55 and younger adults with a medical condition or disability.

Workers deemed critical or high risk can also apply.

Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy said it was an exciting milestone in Australia’s fight against the deadly virus.

“I know there is a lot of enthusiasm, which is great, to get vaccinated in Australia,” Professor Murphy said on Monday.

“But be patient and wait, look at the eligibility checker, and wait for appointments to come up.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said 250,000 doses would be made available from this week.

“We all have to recognise there’s enough vaccine for every Australian three times over,” he told reporters.

General practices will be contacting their patients most at risk, including very elderly people.

People can also go online to find out whether they are eligible and where the vaccine is being delivered in their local area.

The initial phase of the rollout will continue for another six to eight weeks until all people in that group have received their second jab.

Mr Hunt said some 281,500 vaccinations had been provided so far, including 58,358 does to people in aged care.

More than 1000 general practices have registered to administer the vaccine, with another 3500 clinics to begin over the next four weeks.

Vaccines will also be available at 100 respiratory clinics.

Flooding has caused delays to the vaccine rollout across some parts of NSW.

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the length of the interruption would depend on how quickly floodwaters abated.

“We’re in no rush, we’re in a really good position in Australia, better than any other country in the world because we’ve been able to manage this pandemic,” he told Sky News.

“We haven’t got people severely ill in hospitals in any great quantities.

“We’re very confident that we’ll work with the medical profession to roll those vaccines out in a COVID-safe way and a safe way in terms of emergencies, once the water abates.”

Regulators have finalised approval for the locally manufactured AstraZeneca jab, with the first doses expected to be made available within days.

The federal government will not say how many doses CSL will produce in its first few weeks or when the rollout will ramp up to the promised one million doses a week.

People are also being reminded to have their annual flu shot, which will become available over the coming month.

A 14-day gap is recommended between receiving the coronavirus and influenza vaccines.


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