18 February 2021

COVID-19 update 18 February 2021: First COVID vaccines due to arrive in Perth

Western Australia is due to take delivery of its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday – ahead of the start of local vaccinations on Monday.

The initial consignment will contain approximately 5000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the first COVID vaccine to have been approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Similar quantities are expected in for the following two weeks before supplies increase from mid-March.

WA’s Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew Robertson welcomed the pending arrival describing it as a critical milestone in the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While at-risk and vulnerable populations are being prioritised for early vaccination, Dr Robertson urged all Western Australians to take the opportunity to get vaccinated as they became eligible. 

“Getting vaccinated will be one of the most important things we can to do to protect ourselves, our families and our community from COVID-19,” he said.

The WA Department of Health is partnering with the Australian Government to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to Western Australians. Under this arrangement, the Department will be responsible for delivering vaccinations to frontline workers across Western Australia, while the Commonwealth will oversee the roll out in the disability and aged-care sectors.

The vaccination program is being delivered in phases.

“Quarantine hotel workers – including hotel staff, police, security and clinical staff working the facilities – are considered to be at highest risk of contracting the virus and of passing it on so will be first in line for the jab,” Dr Robertson said.

“For the same reasons certain airport and port personnel who are required to board and spend time on overseas vessels will also be prioritised for vaccination.

“We expect members of the general public to become eligible for vaccination by mid-year.”

The vaccine’s arrival in WA is the culmination of a long and complex logistical operation, made even more complex by the vaccine’s storage and handling requirements.

Prior to being thawed in readiness for use, the vaccine must be kept away from light and maintained at a temperature of between -60 and -90 degrees Celsius.

The Pfizer vaccine is one of three vaccines that Australia has ordered in response to the pandemic. The recently approved AstraZeneca vaccine, and yet-to-be approved Novavax are expected to become available later in the program roll out.

While in-reach clinics are being established to provide early vaccinations to frontline quarantine personnel, vaccine hubs are also being established at Perth Children’s Hospital and the Albany, Broome, Geraldton, Hedland and Kalgoorlie health campuses.


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