More than six million Australians will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday as more than 1000 GP clinics start vaccinating people.
The phase 1b rollout comes into effect on Monday, with the first of the general population included in the cohort set to be vaccinated.
It covers the over 70s, healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults over 55 and adults with a specified medical condition.
Critical and high-risk workers including Defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing are also included under phase 1b.
It comes as more than 1000 GP clinics join the COVID-19 vaccination program on Monday as part of the rollout.
The clinics have initially been supplied with imported AstraZeneca vaccine.
By the end of April, clinics will increase in number to more than 4000, along with more than 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 commonwealth-operated GP-led respiratory clinics, with the scale up coinciding with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration approved the manufacture of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia on Sunday in what it said was a “critical and very exciting milestone in Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Fifty million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be manufactured at two sites in suburban Melbourne. CSL-Behring Australia in Broadmeadows is making the active raw vaccine material, while the final doses are being manufactured and vials filled and packaged at CSL company Seqirus in Parkville.
Quality control testing of the raw material and product is also being carried out in these facilities.
The Australian government has purchased 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be manufactured on its behalf by CSL.
Each batch of vaccine supplied will undergo a TGA batch release, which involves a review of documents describing how it was made, tested, shipped and stored as well as testing by the TGA’s in-house lab to ensure it’s been made according to required standards.
If the individual batches meet TGA’s batch release requirements, the vaccines will form the mainstay of Australia‘s COVID-19 vaccination program over the coming months, complementing the supply of the imported vaccines.
The first batches are expected to be released in the next few days.
Already more than 200,000 Australians have been vaccinated.