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Australians will have three coronavirus vaccines to choose from next year, said Australia’s Acting Medical Director Paul Kelly.
Professor Kelly confirmed that the government’s plan will move the elderly and those with underlying health problems and at increased risk to the forefront of the vaccination line.

Essential workers would be the third priority, Professor Kelly said, and that’s where the “granularity” of the hierarchy would need to be resolved.

A vial of Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine ready for administration at Guy's Hospital at the start of the largest immunization program in UK history.
Australians will have access to at least three COVID-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (pictured). (Getty)

Full details on who will receive the first vaccines will be revealed in January, he said.

International airline crew it could be in line for the first vaccines, said Professor Kelly, describing that group as “putting themselves in danger for the good of the country.”

“Our goal for 2021 is for anyone in Australia who wants to get vaccinated with this vaccine,” said Professor Kelly.

“We are likely to have three vaccines ready for implementation next year,” he said.

One of the three vaccines is manufactured in Australia. The government has already prepaid two of the other vaccines in development.

He called the risk of an international airline crew bringing the virus to Australia as an “emerging issue” that is now being discussed at the National Cabinet level.

Professor Kelly said the government is working on “a specific job to see how we can protect the general public, including those who are close to the international crew.”

He said the crew had put themselves in jeopardy to bring Australians home overseas and bring crucial cargo into the country.

There have been 134 cases of aircrews infected with the virus since the pandemic began, Professor Kelly said.

Baggage handlers unload luggage from a Qantas plane.
Baggage handlers unload luggage from a Qantas plane. (AAP)
Qantas and Virgin Australia planes on the ground are seen parked at Melbourne's Avalon Airport in April.  Government-imposed travel restrictions have grounded a significant proportion of Australia's airline fleet due to the coronavirus
Qantas and Virgin Australia planes on the ground are seen parked at Melbourne’s Avalon Airport in April. (AAP)

“The airline’s crew, those who are involved in international travel in particular, (are) putting themselves in danger for the good of the country,” he said.

“So along that line, they may well be at the top (of priority).

“But as I said, we will be guided by medical advice and those details will come later.”

Stories of a new coronavirus strain emerging in the UK may be exaggerated and will not affect vaccines in development, said Professor Kelly.

The coronavirus was “actually very stable” and hadn’t changed much this year.

“Our understanding of the information so far from the UK is that this is a minor, not a major change,” he said.

Any observed change in the virus did not increase person-to-person transmission or the severity of the disease.

Professor Kelly said the possible mutation does not appear to “in any way affect (a) the efficacy of vaccines, so people should be calm about it.”

Who will get it first in Australia?

1. People at higher risk (elderly, people with certain health problems, aboriginals and islanders of the Torres Strait).

2. People at increased risk of exposure (healthcare and elderly care workers, group residential care workers and disabled care workers, those employed in correctional and detention centers and meat processing plants).

3. People who work in emergency services, defense forces, public health personnel, personnel who manage quarantine facilities, and workers employed by the main infrastructure and public services companies.


www.9news.com.au

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