The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines into regional, rural and remote communities is an vital part of the Australian Government’s vaccine strategy to protect country people and managing the fight against the virus in the regions.
The Australian Government is working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, General Practices, state and territory governments, Primary Health Networks, General Practitioner-led Respiratory Clinics and community pharmacies, to ensure that Australian’s living in regional, rural and remote locations have access to a vaccination if they choose to.
To further strengthen our rollout delivery across Australia, both GP's and pharmacies have been invited to join the nation-wide effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. This will integrate more than 2,000 vaccine sites across Australia.
GP's will join the rollout from phase 1B, with pharmacies to begin vaccine distribution from phase 2A.
The Australian Government is committed to providing safe and effective vaccines free to everyone in Australia, no matter where they live.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said it is expected that there will be thousands of sites that will support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations in Australia.
“We already have several agreements for the supply of approximately 140 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including those produced by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novavax,” Minister Hunt said.
“Access to vaccines approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration has been prioritised, ensuring those at greatest risk are vaccinated first.”
“We are working hard to ensure site readiness including specific handling requirements and sufficient cold chain capacity in locations that will be handling frozen vaccines.”
“This includes undertaking detailed implementation planning with peak bodies, jurisdictions and vaccination providers to ensure access to doses and to minimise wastage,” Minister Hunt said.
The Government has worked extensively with Pfizer and AstraZeneca and our logistics providers, DHL and Linfox, to ensure that either vaccine can be safely delivered throughout Australia.
Minister for Rural Health, Mark Coulton said Australia’s world class primary health workforce would be critical to the success of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the nation.
“The rural health workforce – including doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and allied health professionals – have continually risen to the challenges of COVID-19 over the past year and will play a pivotal role in support the rollout of vaccines across regional Australia,” Minister Coulton said.
“I have held regular discussions with rural health stakeholders to ensure the impacts of COVID-19 are specifically considered in a rural context. The sector have provided valuable insights and considerations to the vaccine rollout and distribution across regional Australia.
“Our comprehensive response to the pandemic, including the establishment of GP Respiratory Clinics, developing a remote retrieval strategy and extending telehealth to protect regional Australians have been extremely successful in containing the virus.
“While cases of the virus have remained low in rural areas, the rollout of the vaccine is the next key aspect of our plan to keep our communities safe.”
Minister for Indigenous Australian, Ken Wyatt said the rollout of the vaccine program to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia, particularly in remote communities would be a sizeable undertaking.
“For this reason we will continue to listen to the advice and expertise of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, which has informed all aspects of the COVID-19 response since early March 2020,” Minister Wyatt said.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have an increased risk of acquiring and developing serious outcomes from communicable diseases due to multiple factors, including social determinants of health.”
The Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy is available at health.gov.au