The first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine that most Australians will receive has arrived in Sydney, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailing a new milestone in the fight against the virus.
The first 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine landed from overseas on Sunday, but 50 million doses of this type will be manufactured by CSL in Australia.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration will now batch test the first shipment to ensure it meets Australia’s strict quality standards.
“This is the next step as we ramp up the vaccine rollout,”Mr Morrison said.
The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine is due to commence from March 8, subject to the TGA’s testing process.
“Australia is in a unique position because importantly this vaccine gives us the ability to manufacture onshore’ Mr Morrison said.
“Every Australian who wishes to be vaccinated will be able to receive a vaccine this year.”
Australia started its vaccine program last week with the first injections of the Pfizer vaccine.
Almost 30,000 Australians had been vaccinated since last Monday, including 8110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.
However, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has again urged the federal government to keep states better informed of their vaccine rollout plans.
Ms Berejiklian told reporters state leaders are still unsure of how and when the general population will get access to a vaccine.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact… that we would appreciate as much information in a timely way, but we also appreciate that’s not always possible,” she told reporters.
The federal government is rolling out a second $31 million public information campaign on the COVID-19 vaccination program from Sunday.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said both the state and territory teams, alongside the aged care in-reach teams, are ramping up their operations, with more vaccines being distributed across the country in the next week.
The government’s initial advertising campaign launched in January focused on informing the Australian community about the TGA’s world-leading independent approval process.
“”The advertising is important, so people understand how the vaccination program is operating, how they can find out when it will be their turn and answer any questions they have about the vaccines,” Mr Hunt said.
He said a myth busting unit has also been quietly set up within Home Affairs in cooperation with the Health Department to stamp out information that is “plainly ridiculous”, like 5G theories.
“We don’t want to give too much air to some of the silliest ideas but we do want to provide public reassurance to combat in the marketplace on those ideas which would in any way falsely have some impact on public confidence,” Mr Hunt said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has put in place a so-called a hotspot definition for the Auckland region, which will be reviewed every 72 hours.
The rest of New Zealand can continue to fly to Australia without the need for a 14 day quarantine.
There were no new virus cases reported across Australia on Sunday.