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Prime Minister reveals further $1.9 billion to support vaccine rollout


Matt Woodley


1/02/2021 4:28:25 PM

General practice is expected to receive a substantial amount of the new allocation, but details remain limited.

Scott Morrison
The PM said said the ‘demand-driven’ funding will help healthcare facilities administer vaccines. (Image: AAP)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement during a speech to the National Press Club, in which he said the ‘demand-driven’ funding will help healthcare facilities administer vaccines, as well as support transport, logistics, and systems used to track vaccine data.
 
According to the Prime Minister, the first allotment of imported COVID vaccine doses should arrive on schedule, despite new EU export controls threatening to impact Australia’s access to European-made Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca candidates.
 
‘This will be one of the largest logistics exercises ever seen in Australia’s history – we will be vaccinating 26 million people, having secured over 140 million doses, enough to cover the Australian population several times over,’ Prime Minister Morrison said.
 
‘Our guidance is that first vaccinations remain on track to be in Australia, ready for distribution to priority groups, from late February.
 
‘We are working with states and territories and will be providing guidance for employees, employers, customers and industries on the vaccine shortly.
 
‘However, the final commencement date will depend on developments overseas, which we will continue to monitor and update accordingly.’
 
The new funding is designed to be an ‘initial allocation’ to support the COVID vaccination program, and more is expected to follow.
 
Over the weekend, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters phase 2a of the vaccine rollout, which will see the general population begin to receive doses, is likely to start around May.
 
According to News Corp, the Department of Health has confirmed it is working on an eligibility checker that will be available on its website soon.
 
People who want the vaccine will have to make an appointment using a national booking system that will be the single entry point for the program. However, this booking system is still under development.
 
Minister Hunt also said the Government has contacted the EU, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and the World Health Organization about vaccine supply concerns and their potential impact on Australia.
 
‘The guidance from the EU is provisional and preliminary at this stage, so I will remain cautious, but that guidance is that the EU regulatory steps are not aimed at Australia, and [are] not expected to affect Australia,’ he said.
 
‘But we will continue to engage with the EU on a daily basis.’
 
Regardless of the progress of the vaccine rollout, Prime Minister Morrison confirmed that certain COVID restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
 
‘There can be no let-up in the three vital suppression measures that served Australia well in 2020 and must be the focus of continuous improvement in 2021,’ he said.
 
‘Our international border restrictions and robust quarantine system. Our high rates of testing, our contact tracing systems and our management of outbreaks in hotspots.
 
‘And physical distancing and sound hygiene practices.’
 
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