Australia approves Pfizer Covid vaccine; inoculations to begin next month

  • Australia approves Pfizer Covid vaccine; inoculations to begin next month

Australia approves Pfizer Covid vaccine; inoculations to begin next month

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday gave provisional approval for people aged 16 and over to use the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The first people to receive a jab will be frontline health workers, aged care and disability workers, workers dealing with worldwide arrivals and quarantine and those living in aged care or with a disability.

Two doses at least 21 days apart will be required with a priority group expected to receive the vaccine as soon as it arrives in Australia.

"Today marks the one-year anniversary of Australia's first case", Prime Minister Morrison said.

The World Health Organisation says the second shots of coronavirus vaccines can been given up to six weeks after the first.

"Australians should take confidence in the thorough and careful approach taken by our world-class safety regulator", he said today.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said today's formal approval from the TGA was another "very important step forward" and the one-year anniversary of Australia's first case was a day worthy of a "brief reflection of the journey".

Mr Hunt said worldwide supplies of Australia's second vaccine, AstraZeneca, are likely to commence in early March, subject to TGA approval and shipping.

"The TGA's processes are, I believe, the best in the world, and we have ensured that they are thorough", he said. "You will be aware of the situation and the pressures that we are seeing globally".

The government is now planning to begin vaccinations in late February - slightly later than the mid-February start date it had previously announced as a result of shipment and production delays, with healthcare workers and the elderly to be given priority access.

About 80,000 doses will be administered each week during the initial phase, though Mr Hunt said that number could be higher.

The Australian government has purchased 10 million doses of this particular vaccine.

"Around August a year ago, we took the decision that we didn't want to be in a situation where we were completely reliant on the production of vaccines overseas", Mr Morrison said.

Australia's vaccine roll-out plan.