Going to the front of the queue

Healthcare professionals should get vaccination priority: Minister

Healthcare professionals are likely to be given priority access to COVID-19 vaccines if, and when they are available, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.

Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, Mr Hunt said “the Prime Minister will take to National Cabinet the final rollout in the coming weeks. That will include the formal early priorities”.

“It’s no surprise that the medical expert advice is that health workers and the elderly are the top of those priorities,” he said.

The Minister said results have been positive from trials of both vaccines Australia has under contract. These contracts are with Oxford-AstraZeneca for 33.8 million units and the University of Queensland-CSL for 51 million units.

“The results from both of those have actually been positive, more positive than we had expected. T-cell and antibody response rates are very positive,” Mr Hunt said.

“We’ve seen from Oxford this week new data which has emerged which has shown that the protective capabilities for older participants in the vaccine programs has been exceptionally good.

So all of that is, I think, heartening. We are now close to additional contracts and there are two further ones on the advice of the medical expert panel which are being pursued and which I am confident will be completed within the coming weeks if not earlier”.

The second stage of the government’s strategy, due to be released in December, will give greater detail on the rollout and also the general population priorities, Mr Hunt said.

“But what we want to do is give every Australian who seeks to be vaccinated that capacity over the course of the coming 12 months”.

PSA national president, Dr Chris Freeman said “it is critical that pharmacists, as a pillar of the frontline health workforce, get immediate access to the COVID19 vaccine, as without a pharmacist workforce the medication supply chain stops working.

Pharmacists regularly interact with some of the most vulnerable in our community, so we must protect our pharmacists so they can continue to protect the public. It is therefore pleasing to see the Government broadly acknowledging this”.

“If a mass vaccination scheme is to be successful then then Government must also engage pharmacists to administer the vaccines to the broader public,” Dr Freeman added. 

“PSA continues to call on state and territory governments to make legislative amendments now so that approved COVID-19 vaccines can be administered by pharmacists when available”.

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