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Elderly, health workers first for vaccine

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Elderly people, aged care employees and health workers will be first in line to receive coronavirus vaccines with the first jabs expected in March.

Health Minister Greg Hunt believes Australia is on track to meet its timeline to start vaccinating people in the first quarter of next year.

He said health workers, the elderly and aged care staff would be the priority before making it progressively available to the general population.

"We are on track to deliver vaccines to Australians, commencing in March of 2021. That is I think extremely important news," the minister said.

US pharmaceutical behemoth Pfizer and German company BioNTech this week reported a 90 per cent effectiveness rate during late-stage clinical trials.

Australia has a deal for 10 million Pfizer doses and more than 33 million of the Oxford-AstraZeneca, another promising candidate.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will discuss the government's vaccination policy with state and territory counterparts at Friday's national cabinet meeting.

He said premiers and chief ministers would learn about actions needed to disseminate the vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine uses genetic information to tell the body how to develop an immune response to coronavirus.

That means it needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees.

Therapeutic Goods Administration head John Skerritt said cold chain logistics would be used to transport the Pfizer vaccine.

"They're very sophisticated eskies which require dry ice. They actually last for 14 days and they can be refilled twice," he said.

Adjunct Professor Skerritt said the two refills allowed a month and a half of storage without the need to connect to power.

"Even in a country the size of Australia you can get anywhere much quicker than that," he said.

The TGA has given the Pfizer and Oxford candidates pre-approval provided they meet stringent final checks.

There have been six cases of community transmission in Australia over the past week.

Deaths and infections are soaring across America and Europe with the world averaging 500,000 new cases a day.

© AAP 2020

Tags: coronavirus