Aussie vaccine rollout gets $1.9 billion shot in the arm

Almost $2 billion will be spent equipping hospitals and other health centres to administer coronavirus vaccines.

Feb 01, 2021, updated Feb 01, 2021
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt says the virus jab is performing strongly in the UK. (Photo: AP: Ted S. Warren)

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt says the virus jab is performing strongly in the UK. (Photo: AP: Ted S. Warren)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will make the funding commitment during a major speech to the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday.

Morrison says vaccinating almost 26 million Australians by the end of the year would be one of the nation’s largest-ever logistical exercises.

He will announce an extra $1.9 billion – taking the vaccine program to $6.3 billion – for the workforce involved in the roll-out of the jabs through GPs, pharmacies and thousands of other approved centres.

A special surge workforce is being put in place to ensure it gets to hard-to-reach areas.

Morrison says CSL’s Melbourne manufacturing plant alone should produce enough of the AstraZeneca vaccine to cover the nation.

But the Pfizer vaccine will still be the first rolled out from late February.

However, the Prime Minister says even with the vaccines there can be no let-up in three vital suppression measures – international border controls and quarantine; testing, tracing and hotspot management; and physical distancing and personal hygiene.

“In 2021, these suppression measures, which must be exercised in a balanced way to protect jobs and livelihoods, will be complemented by the COVID-19 vaccines,” Morrison will say.

“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.”

Under the vaccine strategy, all Australians will be offered the opportunity to be vaccinated by October 2021.

Meanwhile, more than two million West Australians have spent their first of five nights in lockdown after coronavirus leaked from hotel quarantine.

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The state’s ten-month streak of no community cases came to an end after a hotel security guard tested positive to the virus in Perth.

Travellers from WA are now subject to tough restrictions and quarantine in every state and territory.

NSW and the ACT have ordered travellers to self-quarantine for five days.

At least nine federal politicians who arrived in Canberra from Perth won’t be allowed to enter Parliament House for the first sitting week of the year.

ACT Health has ordered the politicians and all other passengers aboard the plane to quarantine until Friday night.

The MPs and senators were already in the air when the positive case was announced.

Victoria has adopted stricter measures, banning all travellers from the WA lockdown zone.

Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory have ordered all arrivals from WA to quarantine for 14 days.

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