AstraZeneca vaccine is approved in Australia as government prepares to administer the first jabs on Monday
- AstraZeneca vaccine joins Pfizer vaccine in being approved in Australia
- The government will make doses at the CSL factory in Melbourne
- The Pfizer jab will hit arms on Monday after 142,000 doses arrived in Sydney
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in Australia in adults over the age of 18.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration announced the approval shortly after 12pm on Tuesday.
Aussies will be given two doses of the jab made at Oxford University between four and 12 weeks apart.
The vaccine is very effective at reducing severe illness and death – but it is not yet clear if it will stop mild infection and transmission, which could be crucial to re-opening the country’s border.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in Australia in adults over the age of 18. Pictured: A vaccination in Peru
Australia has ordered vials of the vaccine from overseas but is also making it at the CSL factory in Melbourne.
They will be rolled out in March as the government aims to vaccinate four million people by April.
On Monday 142,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which has also been approved, arrived in Australia on a Singapore Airlines flight.
They will be checked and transported around the country, with the first jabs hitting arms on Monday.
Pallets of the Pfizer vaccines – which are stored at -70C and were made in Belgium – arrived at Sydney Airport on a Singapore Airlines plane just after midday.
‘The eagle has landed,’ jubilant Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters.
‘Today is an important day. It is the next step in a careful plan based on safety, and this is about protecting Australians.’
Australia’s first 142,000 does of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine have arrived in the country
Pallets of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Sydney just after midday on Monday, with photos showing them being loaded of a plane ready for transport
Prime Minster Scott Morrison added: ‘The vaccine has landed and we’re stepping up our fight against the pandemic.’
Mr Hunt said the vaccines will undergo ‘security and quality assurance, in particular to ensure that temperature maintenance has been preserved throughout the course of the flight, to ensure the integrity of the doses, and to ensure there has been no damage.’
Roughly 50,000 doses will be given to the states and territories who want to vaccinate quarantine workers as soon as possible and 30,000 will be used by the federal government for aged care residents and workers.
The remaining 62,000 vaccines will be kept aside to administer as second doses, 21 days after the first dose.
Mr Hunt said the decision to make the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia was crucial given the global supply shortage.
‘I think the two most important decisions for Australia during the course of this pandemic were closure of the border with China and the decision to invest in onshore manufacturing by CSL of the AstraZeneca vaccine,’ he said.
The vaccines will be temperature and quality checked before being distributed to vaccine hubs around the country
Hospitals were told to prepare to start vaccinations next week after the Therapeutic Goods Administration conducts batch testing on some of the first vials.
Australia has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 10 million people.
The vaccines must be kept at minus-70 degrees Celsius to preserve the mRNA responsible for inducing coronavirus immunity.
Logistics firm DHL will help with the transportation of the vaccines using dry-ice filled boxes.
The first Australian shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines is seen being transported off the tarmac after landing at Sydney International Airport