5 things you need to know as Pfizer doses arrive in Australia

·News Editor
·5-min read

Australia's troubled coronavirus vaccine rollout has been given a much-needed boost with the arrival of one million Pfizer doses.

Similar-sized shipments are expected to arrive in the coming weeks and months, speeding up the sluggish vaccine program.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the precious cargo was ready to be rolled out. Here are five things you need to know.

I'm under 40, am I now eligible?

With people over 40 already eligible for Pfizer – the vaccination recommended for under 50s – the burning question has been when people under 40 will be eligible. 

However, the people in that age group should expect to wait "months" until they can receive the vaccine, despite the arrival of the new doses.

Ms Andrews said on Monday she did not want to make any false promises.

The minister agreed it would be months – not weeks – before people aged under 40 became eligible for Pfizer.

A health care worker receives their COVID-19 vaccination at the Westmead Hospital Vaccination Hub in Sydney, Monday, March 1, 2021. Phase 1a of the nation-wide vaccination program began last week, with healthcare and border workers the first to be vaccinated. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins/POOL) NO ARCHIVING
People under 40 will still have to wait months until they're eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Source: Getty

"This is not a situation that is going to be resolved overnight," she said.

Ms Andrews urged people to remember there was light at the end of the tunnel.

"We've been doing our best to get as many vaccines as we can, either produced locally or imported into the country, but that is happening now," she said. 

The ACT however is set to cement its place as the fastest jurisdiction to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine with a move to allow 30 to 39 year olds to register for a jab.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Saturday announced the opening of registration for 30 to 39 year olds from July 21.

Where will Pfizer doses be delivered?

According to the ABC, more than 800,000 doses are arriving in Sydney and almost 100,000 in Melbourne. 

Perth will also receive a cut of the Pfizer doses, with the publication reporting 100,000 have landed in Perth.

Australia now expects to receive one million doses of Pfizer a week until at least the end of August. 

Lieutenant General John Frewen, who is coordinating the vaccine rollout, is distributing the latest shipment across the country.

Will GPs receive a boost in supplies?

Earlier this month the ABC reported GPs would receive a boost to their Pfizer supplies. 

From the start of July, the number of GPs administering the Pfizer jab was due to increase to about 500. 

This could help speed up the vaccination rollout with GPs so far administering the majority of vaccines. 

"General practice undoubtedly is the most efficient way to vaccinate a population, because we've been doing mass vaccination for decades in the form of the flu vaccine and we also vaccinate children of course, and we're responsible for the majority of travel vaccines," Anita Munoz, from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, told the ABC.

People are seen queued to receive their vaccination at the NSW Vaccine Centre at Homebush Olympic Park in Sydney, Monday, July 12, 2020. NSW recorded 112 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
GPs have administered the majority of vaccines. Source: AAP

"So the logistics are there and general practitioners and practice nurses are very well trained in vaccine delivery. What this means is that the Pfizer vaccine will now be dispersed throughout the whole of the country, in people's communities, where general practice is."

Lt Gen Frewen told the ABC it was important for those eligible to make appointments now that Australia had received more supply.

"With the million doses and the additional pathways, I think we see over the next couple of months the vaccination rates start to rise provided Australians keep turning up," he said. 

"I am really pleased with what Australians have done so far in this regard but I encourage everybody to get out, get booked, get your first dose. If you have had your first dose, please get out and get your second dose."

Will vaccinations be compulsory for hospital workers?

National cabinet is being urged to make vaccinations compulsory for all hospital staff and recommit to a firm rollout plan.

Catholic Health Australia, which represents a network of not-for-profit hospitals, said staff were already required to get vaccinated against the flu but there was no such directive for Covid-19.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01: A staff member prepares a Pfizer vaccination for clients at the Inner City Covid-19 Vaccine Hub on July 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. The weekly four-hour clinic offers COVID-19 vaccinations to some of Sydney's most vulnerable people - those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The initiative is a collaborative effort between organisations including St Vincent's Hospital, St Vincent de Paul, Wayside Chapel, the City of Sydney and the Kirketon Road Centre, aiming to immunise around 100 people per week. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Australia will receive a million doses of Pfizer a week until at least the end of August. Source: Getty

The organisation's health policy director has called for a consistent set of vaccine rules.

"The high transmissibility of the Delta variant of Covid is putting workers and the people they care for at greater risk as well as putting extra strain on staff," James Kemp told AAP.

"We need a single, uniform rule across Australia for everyone working in a hospital environment."

Will pharmacies be joining the vaccination rollout?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has admitted supplies are not yet sufficient to bring large numbers of pharmacies into the Covid-19 vaccination program.

Mr Morrison met with state and territory leaders on Friday to discuss the vaccine rollout, which had its best-ever day on Thursday with 175,002 doses delivered nationally.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference at Kirribilli House in Sydney, Friday, July 16, 2021.  New South Wales has recorded 97 new locally transmitted coronavirus cases overnight. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference at Kirribilli House in Sydney, Friday, July 16, 2021. New South Wales has recorded 97 new locally transmitted coronavirus cases overnight. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

The government began making plans for pharmacies to voluntarily be involved in the rollout in January with an expression of interest scheme.

Some have been delivering vaccinations in rural and regional areas and parts of southwest Sydney to supplement the work of GPs.

But many health experts see the sector as crucial to reaching the goal of offering jabs to all Australians by the end of the year.

Mr Morrison said the government would be seeking "over the weeks ahead" to bring in more pharmacies to the metropolitan program "in a limited way at first".

With AAP

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting