Australia to roll out Covid vaccine in February, with goal for 4m jabs by March


The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in Australia has been brought forward to mid-to-late February with the Morrison government aiming to have four million receive the jab by March.

Announcing the accelerated rollout on Thursday, the prime minister Scott Morrison also indicated it would be up to the states and territories to decide whether the vaccine could be made compulsory for some groups, such as aged care workers.

Australia is aiming to complete Therapeutic Goods Administration approval of the Pfizer vaccine by late January, after which it will take up to two weeks to be delivered and up to a week for batch-testing. The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be approved in February.

Morrison set out a process to begin vaccination, with the first recipients being high-priority groups including 700,000 frontline workers in the health sector, border enforcement, hotel quarantine, aged care, and disability care; and residents of aged and disability care.

Morrison said starting with 80,000 vaccinations a week, Australia would aim to ramp that up in order to vaccinate four million people by the end of March.

The second tier of six million recipients is made up of Australians aged over 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55, healthcare workers, younger adults with underlying health conditions and emergency services workers.