Medical watchdog approves Pfizer vaccine with mass rollout to start in February

Australia’s medical watchdog has approved the Pfizer vaccine for Australians aged over 16 paving the way for a mass Covid-19 vaccine rollout to begin next month.

“Australians should take confidence in the thorough and careful approach taken by our world-class safety regulator,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“Our priority has always been to keep Australians safe and protect lives and livelihoods. Today’s approval is another big step forward for our community, particularly in the protection of our most vulnerable people.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the vaccine rollout will begin with around 80,000 doses per week, with people needing two doses at least 21 days apart.

Australia is using two vaccines – Pfizer and AstraZeneca — with the latter to be produced locally by CSL in Melbourne, which will supply approximately one million doses per week from late March onwards.

While this news that has been eagerly anticipated as a potential boost to kickstart international travel, not enough data has been gathered yet by countries that are further ahead with the vaccine rollout such as Israel.

Professor Brendan Murphy, the man leading our Covid response, said they would be monitoring the data over the coming months about the impact on transmission of the virus.

“We don’t yet know how effective they are at preventing the transmission of the virus,” he said.

“The other thing we don’t know is how long the immunity of these vaccines will last. It may be that people will need additional doses of vaccines, possibly annually. These things are completely unknown at the moment.”