Momentum is building for the roll out of a Covid vaccine in Australia after the UK announced it will begin administering Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines within days.
The UK’s fast action makes it the first vaccine approval from a Western government and has strong implications for Australia, which has an agreement in place for the wide-spread supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says approval for the Pfizer vaccine for Australia will come by the end of January with plans to begin the roll out from March.
“Today is an important step for the world,” Hunt said.
‘We are on track for decisions with the early vaccines by the end of January. We are on track for first vaccinations beginning with our health workers and our aged care residents subject to approvals in March.’
The injection will be optional and the government said it has no plans to make it compulsory, but it is hoped that all Australians who want the jab will be vaccinated by the end of 2021.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that vaccines might allow international travel faster than the previously discussed “travel bubbles” with nations such as New Zealand.
“Australia’s success at virtually eliminating COVID means we’ll need a vaccine for international travel to restart properly,” Joyce said.
“We have a duty of care to our people and to our passengers, and once a safe and effective vaccine becomes readily available it will be a requirement.
“The potential for vaccines to be rolled out maybe faster than the bubbles happening is probably real at this stage.”