We have today provided the first of our regular updates for the Tasmanian community on what will be the biggest health logistical exercise in our state’s history, the COVID vaccination roll-out.
The Tasmanian Government has been preparing for the vaccine rollout for some months, including the activation of the Tasmanian Vaccination Emergency Operations Centre (TVEOC).
The Centre is working closely with the Australian Government to plan the rollout across the Tasmanian community, with thousands of people working on ensuring it goes as smoothly as possible.
We want as many Tasmanians as possible to get vaccinated. The vaccine is free, safe and available to everyone.
The TGA announced provisional approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 25 January 2021 and today I am pleased to advise that the first batch is expected to arrive in Tasmania in the last week of February.
Tasmania will receive 2,340 doses a week for the first three weeks. This will then double to 4,680 doses a week from the fourth week as we start to deliver the second dose through March. This allocation will be split 50 – 50 between Tasmania’s priority population to be delivered by the Tasmanian Government and residential aged care and disability care residents and workers, to be rolled out by the Commonwealth Government.
There will be a gradual start to the rollout, as Pfizer stock will be limited over the first few weeks but it will pick up significantly near the end of March as Tasmania starts to receive batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine for delivery to the wider population.
The Pfizer vaccine will be provided to priority groups first. These will be:
o quarantine and border workers
o hotel quarantine staff
o frontline at-risk healthcare workers, including key ambulance staff
o hospital emergency department and ICU staff
o COVID-19 testing staff
People in these priority groups will be contacted directly before the first batch arrives to arrange their two appointments at least 21 days apart for the two doses that will be required to give them the best protection.
The priority groups will receive both their doses at Pfizer hubs – which will be at Tasmania’s three major hospitals.
At the same time, the Australian Government will start its program to vaccinate residential aged care and disability care staff and residents on site in Tasmania.
The first doses will be delivered at the Royal Hobart Hospital and through the Australian Government’s program in residential aged care facilities.
During March, the program will move to the Launceston General Hospital and then the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie.
We plan to have fully vaccinated Tasmania’s priority populations by early April.
We know that Tasmanians have many questions about the vaccine and we will seek to provide answers to them all as we build on the work of the Commonwealth’s public awareness campaign.
This also means working closely with Aboriginal groups and those in the multi-cultural community to ensure they are able to access information to meet the needs of their communities.
The vaccine is not a silver bullet, and it is critical that we all continue to be COVID safe.
This means maintain physical distancing and good hand hygiene. Stay home if you’re sick and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.