WA frontliners to get COVID jab this month

Andi Yu
·3-min read

Vaccinations against COVID-19 will start in Western Australia from February 22, the state government has announced.

Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook announced the plans on Saturday, saying it would be a limited rollout prioritising quarantine and international border staff, high risk frontline healthcare workers and aged and disability care staff.

WA will get just 10,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine initially and each recipient of the jab must have a second one three weeks later, Mr McGowan said.

As more vaccine doses become available, six hubs will be set up to administer jabs: Perth Children's Hospital as well as Albany, Headland, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton and Broome health campuses.

"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," Mr McGowan said.

Roger Cook said medical teams from Perth Children's Hospital would administer the initial doses of the vaccine to high risk frontliners in order to "tackle the greatest potential threat head on".

All people above the age of 16 will be recommended to receive the vaccine as soon as it's available to them. Children under 16 will not receive the vaccine, though this could change in later phases of the rollout, the health minister said.

Mr Cook implored WA residents to use the SafeWA QR code system to register their attendance at venues.

It should become a habit, "a normal part of your daily routine", he said.

There has already been pleasing compliance from the population in using the app, he said, with more than 1.5 million scans on Friday.

No new locally acquired or overseas acquired virus cases were recorded in WA on Saturday.

With a week of transitional restrictions in Perth and Peel regions in the wake of the five-day lockdown which ended on Friday, the premier urged residents to "stay the course" so pre-lockdown life can return.

He said masks from the state's stockpile were readily available in pharmacies and other locations but that he had noticed many people had been "fantastic" in having their own masks ready to wear.

Asked about whether he would resume campaigning for the WA state election next month, the premier said no because he was too busy dealing with the five-day lockdown, bushfires and flooding.

"This week has been a week like none other," he said.

The government has defended forcing more than two million people into lockdown over what has proved to be just be one case - that of a security guard at the Sheraton Four Points hotel who unwittingly roamed the streets of Perth while infectious.

Authorities believe the virus was transmitted either by airborne transmission or surface contamination.

All residents, including teachers and high school students, must continue to wear masks while outside their homes except during vigorous outdoor exercise.

A 20-person limit will be imposed on all private indoor gatherings, while a four square metre rule and a cap of 150 attendees will apply to hospitality and retail venues and weddings.

Restaurants, pubs and bars can only have seated service and only essential travel is permitted in and out of the combined restricted zone.