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COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins in the Northern Territory


The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will be rolled out across the Northern Territory today.

The Pfizer vaccines arrived at the Darwin International Airport yesterday morning.

Quarantine and border workers and frontline healthcare staff will be the first to receive their vaccines.

Aged care residents and staff and disability clients and staff are among the first to be vaccinated under the Commonwealth program.

Vaccinations will commence at the Royal Darwin Hospital hub today and at the Alice Springs Hospital later this week.

Top End Health Service's Chief Operating Officer, Michelle McKay says the Territory is starting slowly with the rollout.

"It's a complex process to do max vaccinations in the way we are," Ms McKay says.

"The vaccine itself is a little unusual in that there's multiple doses per vial, which is just an unusual way of having the vaccine arrive, she says.

"There's a bit for us to make sure our processes are sound and then we'll be able to increase [vaccinations]."

Ms McKay says they plan to give 3,000 people their first dose of the vaccine in the next couple of weeks under Phase 1 A.

The next group to receive the vaccine includes adults over the age of 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 55, the rest of the health care workforce and young people with medical conditions.

Ms McKay says the NT is well equipped to navigate the roll out of vaccines to remote communities.

"We're used to delivering vaccine programs, this one's larger, more complex, but we do have good experience in how to do that."

The majority of Territorians will receive their vaccine in the second half of the year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison received the coronavirus vaccine with his jab televised last night, in order to help boost confidence in the vaccine rollout across Australia.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which was approved by theTherapeutic Goods Administration last week will be given topriority groups in early March

Michelle McKay says there is no reason to be concerned about the vaccines.

"We've got a very very robust and rigorous safety regime for vaccinations in Australia," she says.

"The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is the title of the organisation, are very very thorough."

"Their advice is consistently that these vaccines are safe and they are effective and consequently we're strongly recommending that everyone who's eligible to have a dose, does have one or two, as the case may be."

People are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they have concerns about the vaccines.


(Photos: Mel Brautigam/Darwin International Airport)