22 February 2021

First jabs mark historic milestone in COVID-19 response

Western Australia has marked a major milestone in its response to COVID-19 with the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine being administered to at-risk frontline workers today.

A hotel quarantine nurse became the first person in WA to get the jab when she attended a hotel quarantine vaccination clinic in the city – at one of nine State-run facilities being used to accommodate returning international travelers as a result of the pandemic.

By the middle of March 2021, it is anticipated that more than 20,000 frontline healthcare, quarantine and border workers will have been given the first of two doses of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved Pfizer vaccine, dependent on the supply the vaccine.

The Department of Health is partnering with the Australian Government to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to Western Australians.

WA’s Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew Robertson welcomed the start of vaccinations saying the vaccination program would be the biggest in WA’s history.

Dr Robertson said the vaccine rollout in WA was based on the Australian Government’s national plan which prioritised people whose workplaces put them at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19, and of passing it on, and those deemed most at risk of becoming seriously ill from the disease.

“These workers have been at the forefront of this pandemic and we are proud of the work they have done to minimise the transmission of COVID-19 and to protect the community,” he said.

“Subsequent vaccinations – which will continue to be allocated according to risk – will include other frontline healthcare and at-risk workers such as emergency and critical care ward staff.”

Vaccinations to other priority groups including people over 70 years of age, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people and people with underlying medical conditions, are expected to be offered vaccination in the next phase of the rollout, which is anticipated to commence in late March.

Members of the general public will likely have access to vaccination through GPs, respiratory clinics and Aboriginal health services from the middle of the year.

Dr Robertson said that while vaccination against COVID-19 was not compulsory he encouraged all Western Australians to get jabbed as they became eligible.

“Our priority is to make sure that any approved vaccine that becomes available can be administered to Western Australians as quickly, safely and equitably as possible.”

If there was anyone who needed more information on the vaccination or needed to speak to someone about the program, he urged people to visit: healthywa.wa.gov.au/COVID19vaccine or call 13 COVID (13 268 43).

He said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which approved vaccines for use in Australia, set rigorous standards so people could have confidence in the safety of the vaccine.

In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was approved by the TGA last week, is due to be rolled-out in WA from next month. A third vaccine – the Novavax vaccine is also expected to be approved for use in Australia later in the year.

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