PORT Macquarie will be among the first towns, suburbs and hubs to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when the national roll out begins next week.
In NSW, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will first go to three Sydney hospitals, including Royal Prince Alfred, Westmead and Liverpool hospitals, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced.
Minister Hunt said thousands of aged care residents in Australia, at more than 240 facilities, would receive their first COVID-19 vaccine doses next week.
Sydney suburbs, the Central Coast, Wollongong and Port Macquarie are listed among the towns and areas that will have initial access.
The rollout will begin with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and following the approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), will include the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from early March.
Healthy North Coast, the local organisation delivering the Australian Government's PHN program, is helping to coordinate parts of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout on the Mid North Coast.
HNC CEO Julie Sturgess emphasises the importance of maintaining hygiene practices, physical distancing and testing for COVID-19 throughout 2021.
Ms Sturgess said HNC supports the Australian Government's staged vaccination strategy that's designed around limited vaccine availability and the prioritisation of high-risk groups and regions of need.
"As the COVID-19 vaccination program gets set to start, and despite the relatively low numbers of local cases we've experienced in our region, we can't let our guard down," Ms Sturgess said.
"We need to remain vigilant about preventing the spread of the virus. If you're experiencing even mild symptoms, make sure you get tested early at one of our local testing centres."
Frontline border and quarantine workers, and those living and working in residential aged and disability care would be the first to receive the vaccine.
Minister Hunt reaffirmed that Australia's vaccine strategy was "strong and on schedule".
"The vaccination program will save and protect lives. Both of our vaccines will prevent serious illness. That is our primary goal," he said.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has identified the following people as being eligible for vaccination under Phase 1A of the rollout:
- Aged care and group disability care workers and residents, including residents of aged care and people with disability living in disability residential accommodation
- Quarantine and border workers, including staff at entry points to the country, staff working in quarantine facilities, and Commonwealth employees (including Defence personnel) who are identified as having the potential to encounter returning travellers as part of their work.
- Frontline health workers (clinical, medical students and administrative staff) most likely to be exposed to COVID-19 including staff in facilities or services such as hospital emergency departments, COVID-19 and respiratory wards, Intensive Care Units and High-dependency Units; Laboratory staff handling potentially infectious material; Ambulance and paramedics service; GP respiratory clinics, and COVID-19 testing facilities.
Other health workers would follow in Phase 1B.
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