Date published: 
22 February 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

PETER STEFANOVIC:     

Let's go live now to Professor Michael Kidd, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. Professor, thanks for your time this morning. So what happens now? What will you be monitoring?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Well, we'll, firstly, we'll be monitoring the rollout of the vaccine. The vaccine is being rolled out through the 16 hubs established with the states and territories. And also those flying squads of nurse immunisers who will be going out over the next week or so to 240 residential aged care and disability care services in 190 towns and suburbs right across the country. At the same time, Therapeutic Goods Administration has set up its mechanism. So if we do have people who experience any side-effects related to the vaccine, that we are documenting those side effects so that we can follow what's happening. And of course, every single dose of the vaccine is being entered in the Australian Immunisation Register so we know who's received doses, which vaccine they've received, which batch of the vaccine they've received and we can make sure that people are getting their second dose. Everyone turning up today will be getting their appointment for their follow-up booster shot. For the Pfizer vaccine, of course, that occurs three to four weeks after the first immunisation.

PETER STEFANOVIC:     

You've got a little smile on your face this morning, Professor. Is there some relief that finally the time has come?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

I think today is a real milestone in our battle against COVID-19, and I just want to say a huge thank you to everybody who got us to this point, the amazing researchers in Australia and overseas. Everyone who's been working on getting the vaccine into Australia and around the country. Of course, those wonderful nurses and doctors we're seeing on your show who are delivering the vaccine to the people who are most at risk at the moment, the people working in quarantine, border forces, our frontline health care workers. But this is only day one. This program is going to run out over months until October. Of course, everyone in Australia who is aged 18 and over are being offered this vaccine free of charge wherever they are in the country. So really important that we're, of course, still protecting each other as we have been over the last year. But, yes, this is a really important and welcome day.

PETER STEFANOVIC:     

So when do you think results will start to come in so you know that it is effective, that it is doing what it should?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Well, of course, we have a huge amount of experience from overseas where these vaccines have now been rolling out for the last few months. Over 170 million people have been vaccinated around the world against COVID-19. There's continuing findings coming through. We've talked about what's been happening in Israel, which is one of the countries which has been very quick in rolling out the vaccine to a large percentage of their population. And, of course, in that country, they've seen a dramatic reduction in the number of people with severe illness, the number of people being admitted to hospital, the number of people in intensive care units. So very welcome signs that these vaccines, as we know, are effective at preventing serious disease from people infected with COVID-19.

PETER STEFANOVIC:     

What about when there are multiple strains of the virus that come out? Is there a chance that they'll need to get an extra shot?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Yes, look, that is always the possibility. It is, of course, what happens with the influenza vaccine every year - each year we get a booster of the influenza vaccine against the new strains which have developed during the Northern Hemisphere winter over previous months. So it's highly likely that that may be what happens with COVID-19 as well. The most important thing is to get people vaccinated. And the more people who are vaccinated, the less opportunity the virus has to spread amongst the population, the less opportunity it has to develop these new strains which cause problems.

PETER STEFANOVIC:     

And what's your message to the commentary that's coming from anti-vaxxers at the moment, Professor?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Look, I think please look at the evidence, look at the communications which are coming out, look at what's happening right around the world. These vaccines are safe and effective and they save lives. Please, when it's your turn, go and get the vaccine. Do like I'm going to do - roll up your sleeve, get the vaccine. Do what you can to protect your health, the health of your loved ones, the health of the entire Australian population.

PETER STEFANOVIC:     

And just finally, Professor, for pregnant women, it's still a way off. Is that something that you'd be saying, look, don't get it just yet, or for women who are looking to fall pregnant?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

For women who are pregnant, my advice is please have a talk to your GP, your obstetrician, your midwife, about whether or not to get the vaccine. It is a matter of balancing risks. If women are working in areas where they are at high risk of being exposed to COVID-19, they may wish to get the vaccine. What we do know is that COVID-19 can be a more serious illness in women who are pregnant. It can lead to an increased incidence of preterm labour. What we also know from the evidence is that there is nothing to prevent women who are breastfeeding from getting the vaccine or women who are planning to get pregnant from getting the vaccine.

PETER STEFANOVIC:     

Okay. Professor Michael Kidd, busy morning for you, no doubt, but appreciate your time, as always. Thanks for joining us. We'll talk to you soon.

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Thank you.     

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