Australia’s vaccine rollout has received another boost with one million doses of the Moderna vaccine to arrive this weekend.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the vaccine would be rolled out to pharmacies following a batch test by Australia’s medical regulator.
“The significant outcome of that is that that means over 1800 pharmacies will commence distribution of Moderna next week. They will start aggressively during the week as they are ready and as supplies arrive to them,” he said.
From next week, 4500 general practices across the country will be available to administer the Covid-19 vaccine, up from 3000.
“Around Australia we will have over 9000 points of presence next week. My hope is that everybody, everybody who has not yet taken the vaccine will come forward over the coming days and weeks and there is sufficient vaccine for every Australian before the end of October, if not significantly earlier,” Mr Hunt said.
The one million extra doses were sourced from European Union member states and are additional to the 10 million doses the government has ordered from Moderna.
Australia on Friday hit a major vaccination milestone, with 70 per cent of the population aged 16+ having received their first Covid-19 jab.
Friday also marked the national cabinet deadline for all aged care staff to receive at least their first dose of the vaccine. The deadline was set back in June in a bid to stop Covid-19 seeping into aged care facilities.
Mr Hunt confirmed 96.9 per cent of the workforce had taken the call to get inoculated.
“Although the international figures are not readily available, this is likely to be one of the highest rates of aged care worker vaccination in the world,” he said.
The Health Minister confirmed facilities would not roster on those who had not received their first dose. At this stage, the department did not expect there to be workforce shortages as a result.
“It has been difficult and it did require mandating and there are some people who have different views about vaccination and that’s a reality across the country,” he said.
“But it is a world-leading outcome and world-leading model, which is contributing to lifesaving outcomes.”
It’s expected the figure of vaccinated aged care workers will rise when aged care facilities issue their final report to the health department on Tuesday evening.
Around 800 workers have been granted a temporary medical exemption and a “small number” have been grant a permanent exemption.
Only 50 of the 260,000 strong workforce cited access to the vaccine as a barrier.
Chief nursing officer Alison McMillian said the department was working to shift hesitancy around being vaccinated, especially with women around child-bearing age.
“Aged care workers are a very female-dominated workforce often of child-bearing age, and understandably among some women of that age, there is some hesitancy,” she said.
“We now know that Covid can significantly, particularly Delta can, impact pregnant women but also their children, so this gives us some additional protection, but we need to make sure that we do that in a trusted way.”