coronavirus vaccines to choose from next year, Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has said.Australians will have three
Professor Kelly confirmed the government’s plan will see the elderly and those with underlying health conditions and most at risk moved to the front of the vaccination line.
Essential workers would be third priority, Professor Kelly said, and that is where “granularity” of hierarchy would need to be worked out.
Full details about who will be given the first vaccines will be revealed in January, he said.
International airline crew could be in line for early vaccinations, Professor Kelly said, describing that group as “putting themselves in danger for the good of the country”.
New South Wales today reported a new case of coronavirus, a driver responsible for shuttling airline crew to and from Sydney Airport.
“Our aim for 2021 is to have anyone in Australia who wants to get this vaccine vaccinated,” Professor Kelly said.
“We have the likelihood that there will be three vaccines ready for rollout next year,” he said.
One of the three vaccines is being made in Australia. The government has already pre-paid for two of the other vaccines under development.
He called the risk of international airline crew bringing the virus into Australia an “emerging issue” now under discussion at National Cabinet level.
Professor Kelly said the government is working on “a specific piece of work to look at how we can protect the wider public including those that are close to international crew.”
He said aircrew had put themselves in danger to bring home Australians abroad and bring crucial freight into the country.
There had been 134 cases of aircrew becoming infected with the virus since the pandemic began, Professor Kelly said.
“Airline crew, those that are involved with international travel in particular, (are) putting themselves in danger for the good of the country,” he said.
“So on that line, they may well be up the top (of the priority).
“But as I said, we’ll be guided by the medical advice and those specifics will come later.”
The stories of a new strain of coronavirus emerging in the UK may be over-hyped and will not affect the vaccines under development, Professor Kelly said.
The coronavirus was “actually very stable” and had not changed a lot this year.
“Our understanding of the information so far from the UK is that this is a minor change, not a major one,” he said.
Any changes noted in the virus did not increase transmission from person-to-person or the severity of the illness.
Professor Kelly said the possible mutation does not appear “in any way (to) affect the effectiveness of the vaccines, so people should be reassured about that”.
Who will get it first in Australia?
The government has a priority system, pushing the following groups to front of the line:
1. People who have an increased risk (elderly, people with certain health problems, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people).
2. People with an increased risk of exposure (health and aged care workers, group residential care workers and disability care workers, those employed at correctional and detention facilities and meat processing plants).
3. People working in emergency services, defence forces, public health staff, staff managing quarantine facilities and workers employed by major infrastructure and utilities companies.