Touchdown: What now for COVID vaccines
Australia's first doses of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine have arrived into the country, as it was revealed the Gold Coast would become the first hub in Queensland where the jab will be rolled out.
A shipment of about 142,000 doses of the vaccine touched down at Sydney's international airport Monday afternoon, ahead of the first jabs being administered from next Monday.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has revealed the Gold Coast University Hospital will be the first of six hubs in the Sunshine State where Queenslanders will get the vaccine.
The other five hubs will be Cairns Hospital, Townsville Hospital, the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
It comes as a survey of 2461 people in the first week of February, by research firm RedBridge, found 18.7 per cent would not agree to be voluntarily vaccinated once the jab was made available.
Another 12.3 per cent said they were unlikely to agree and 22.3 per cent were unsure, compared to 25.8 per cent who said they would agree to be vaccinated and 20.9 per cent who would likely agree.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said about 60,000 vaccines were expected to be administered before the end of the month, with priority given to frontline health workers and hotel quarantine staff.
Ms Palaszczuk said the vaccine rollout would begin on the Gold Coast to do testing and to ensure "everything's fine" before they forge ahead with the five other hubs.
A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the Gold Coast region was one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic, which was why it "makes sense" that the jab would be administered there first.
"Once more vaccine supply arrives, we'll roll out vaccines to Phase 1a priority groups at the Cairns Hospital, Townsville Hospital, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital," she said.
"Soon we will start receiving stock of the AstraZeneca vaccine, pending approvals, and we will be able to move beyond just the initial locations."
Professor John Gerrard, the head of infectious diseases at the Gold Coast University Hospital, was the first doctor in Queensland to treat a patient for coronavirus just over a year ago.
As the Premier announced his hospital would be the first hub in the state to roll out the vaccine, he said he felt the pandemic had come full circle.
"I think the Gold Coast would be one of the biggest areas in the world to have avoided a death," he said.
"We have the best team here and we were thrown in at the deep end when the virus was a scary unknown and now we are ready to roll out the Pfizer vaccine, we have been ready since October."
The Gold Coast University Hospital has treated close to 300 patients with SARS-Cov-2, including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.
"I told Tom Hanks and his wife back in March that no one on the Gold Coast had lost their lives to COVID-19 and now it looks like we might be able to keep that record," Professor Gerrard said.
"What an amazing thing to have a vaccine just over a year since it began. We are very excited with systems fully in place, staff ready, refrigeration sorted.
"We are not sure of exact timing of first jab but we are keen and able to get started."
The Queensland Health spokeswoman said the state would begin its "staged delivery" as soon as they received the first Pfizer vaccines from the federal government.
"We are ensuring we first protect those who need it most, beginning with those who are most at risk of exposure," she said.
When asked on Monday when she expected all Queenslanders to be vaccinated, Ms Palaszczuk said it depended on the federal government's rollout plan.
"We've got a Queenslander that's going to be embedded in that national co-ordination unit, but we want to make sure that the roll out of the vaccine is smooth," the Premier said.
Australia has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Shipments are now expected to arrive weekly.
"While we're taking the time to get the rollout right, I am confident all Australians who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will receive a vaccine this year," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.
Originally published as Touchdown: What now for COVID vaccines