More than 35,000 critical staff in NSW will be among the first in Australia to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when the rollout begins on Monday, 22 February.
The initial three-week vaccination phase will see all hotel quarantine workers given the Pfizer vaccine – including all workers within quarantine hotels, those screening arrivals at the airport, health staff, cleaners, NSW Police officers and security guards.
Health care workers who have the greatest exposure to potential COVID-19 patients will also be included in the first round of jabs, which will be rolled out progressively. These workers include COVID-19 clinic workers, emergency department workers, NSW Ambulance clinical workforce including patient transport workers, COVID ward workers, critical care workers including support staff and COVID pathology lab staff.
The vaccines will be administered in three initial vaccination hubs at Westmead, Liverpool and Royal Prince Alfred Hospitals.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said vaccinating our quarantine workers is an important milestone in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know the biggest risk for an outbreak in Australia is through returning international travellers staying in the hotel quarantine system,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“With more than 3,000 people arriving in Sydney from overseas each week, priority is being given to quarantine workers to mitigate the risk of an outbreak, and protect those protecting us.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has determined both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to be safe and effective for use.
“There is no silver bullet that will return us to pre-pandemic normality, which is why vaccination and continued COVID-safe behaviour is so important,” Mr Hazzard said.
“The NSW community has been outstanding helping our health workers to contain the virus, and I am sure we will see similar community support for the vaccine rollout.”
Dr Kerry Chant said while she welcomes the commencement of the vaccine rollout and its focus on our quarantine and border workers, we must all continue to be vigilant.
“High testing rates give us the best chance of finding new cases in the community, so even after the vaccine rollout starts, it is vital people still get tested,” Dr Chant said.
“Remember to keep coming forward for testing even with the mildest of symptoms, wear a mask on public transport, socially distance and maintain good hygiene.”
More information will be provided in the coming weeks about further rollouts of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.
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