Eligibility for the COVID-19 Vaccine
Want to know when you’re going to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out in phases which have been determined by the Australian Government.
Priority groups have been identified using public health, medical and epidemiological evidence.
Check out the @healthgovau eligibility calculator to find out which phase you are in: https://covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/eligibility
Want to know more about the rollout? Visit: www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-vaccinated-for-covid-19/when-will-i-get-a-covid-19-vaccine
There is awareness of scams related to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Top tips to remember
1️⃣ The COVID-19 vaccine is free for all Australians. If you get a phone call, text or email asking you to pay for a vaccine please report it.
2️⃣ You should never respond to unsolicited messages asking for financial or personal information.
3️⃣ Check the source – did the message come from an official address or number? If you’re not sure, contact us directly to confirm.
Report a vaccine scam here: www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-vaccine-enquiries
Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy
Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy provides easy to read information and graphics.
Strategy content is included under the headings below for easy reference to information readers have most interest in accessing.
An integrated vaccination strategy
Going into 2021, Australians are among the most fortunate people on earth. 2020 was a tough year, but we came out of it the envy of the world. Together, we fought COVID-19, and while the battle is far from over, we’re ready for the challenges ahead.
That is because Australians stepped up. We put others before ourselves and made sacrifices for the greater good. We adapted the way we worked and how we learned, we stayed home, and we missed out on big life events with our friends and families.
Everyone is still doing their bit to keep all of us safe. By acting fast, working together and trusting the advice of our world-class health professionals, our lives are starting to return to a new COVIDSafe normal. It was not easy, but our continuing sacrifices have set us up for the year ahead; a year when COVID-19 vaccines will be rolled out in Australia. The most vulnerable Australians will be at the front of the queue.
A year to the day from the first case of COVID-19 in Australia, the nation’s medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), approved Australia’s first COVID-19 vaccine. All Australians can be confident that every safety box has been ticked. No shortcuts have been, or will be, taken in deciding which vaccines are safe.
Making COVID-19 vaccines available to all Australians who want them — for free — delivers on a key element of Australia’s Vaccine and Treatment Strategy and the Australian Government aims to have as many people as possible vaccinated this year. We know vaccines work. We know they save lives and will enable life to return to normal sooner.
The Strategy is backed by a $6 billion investment from the Australian Government, including an initial allocation of around $2 billion in new support for the vaccine rollout.
There’s no doubt Australia has taken a significant step forward, but the approval of a vaccine is not a silver bullet. We cannot afford to let our COVIDSafe practices slip. We must not let our guard down.
The path to COVID-19 vaccines
From the very early stages of the pandemic, researchers around the world have been working hard to develop COVID-19 vaccines. They have sped up development of vaccines without compromising safety and effectiveness.
Research into how to respond to a pandemic has been ongoing, long before COVID-19. This research considers data from previous coronaviruses such as SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012, giving researchers a head start to build the COVID-19 vaccines.
Thanks to the collaboration between scientists, researchers, manufacturers and distributors, development and implementation have run side-by side instead of one after the other. Massive new investment in vaccine manufacturing means more vaccines will be available faster to the people who need them most.
Australia moved early to ensure that when a vaccine became available, Australians would be able to receive it as soon as possible after it was proven safe.
Australia has a world-class health and medical research sector backed by key Australian Government investments through the Medical Research Future Fund, National Health and Medical Research Council and the CSIRO to name a few.
The Australian Government has invested $367 million to support research and development, contributing to the global effort to find successful vaccines and treatments to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Australia has invested more than $3 billion in potential vaccines and currently has four separate agreements for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines if they are proven to be safe and effective. This includes:
• 53.8 million doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
• 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
• 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine
• The option to secure up to 50 per cent population coverage through the global COVAX Facility, which supports rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Australia’s vaccine rollout strategy
From the early stages of vaccine development, the Australian Government has had a strategy for investing in promising vaccines and treatments and how they will be safely, fairly and rapidly delivered to Australians. This has included:
1. Research and development
We have identified and supported world-leading research to accelerate development and manufacturing of promising COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
2. Purchase and manufacturing
We have built a diverse global portfolio of investments and secured early access to promising vaccines. Our investment of more than $3 billion in four separate COVID-19 vaccine agreements has ensured safe and early access for everyone living in Australia. Investment decisions have been driven by the advice of the medical experts. The COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments for Australia – Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group (SITAG), chaired by Dr Brendan Murphy, has considered available scientific evidence to inform Government decisions. SITAG will continue to provide advice to inform the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia based on the most current data and epidemiology.
Australia is one of a limited number of countries to have sovereign vaccine manufacturing capacity. Subject to TGA approval, we expect to be able to supply COVID-19 vaccines to the entire Australian population through CSL’s manufacturing plant in Melbourne.
3. International partnerships
The global impact of COVID-19 requires a global response. The Australian Government has joined the COVAX Facility as part of a global effort to support rapid, fair and
equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Our domestic vaccine agreements also enable Australia to donate or on-sell (with no mark-up) to partners in the Pacific and South East Asia, should these vaccines prove safe and effective, and exceed domestic need. Support for our regional neighbours will progress health outcomes and help open up movement of people and goods, providing for economic recovery and longer-term resilience of the Pacific and South East Asia.
4. Regulation and safety
The TGA has been working, and will continue to work, with its international counterparts, sharing information on vaccine clinical trials, manufacturing and safety. The TGA is ensuring safe and timely approval for Australia and our region. In addition, we have a comprehensive monitoring and surveillance plan so that any vaccine provided to Australians will be monitored to ensure ongoing safety.
5. Immunisation administration and monitoring
Our Vaccination Program is based on the medical expert advice, specific to the Australian context and informed by global best practice. We are working with states and territories, contracted partners, peak bodies and consumers on planning, logistics, monitoring and communications. Learning the lessons from overseas, we are tracking the most up to date information and innovative ideas from other nations’ vaccination programs.
The specific aims of the program are to:
• Prevent death and severe disease and limit transmission of disease to the extent possible;
• Ensure equity of vaccine access and uptake, in accordance with the priorities for vaccination below, in order to:
– protect those most likely to experience a serious disease;
– maintain functioning of health care and other essential services to preserve health, social and economic security; and
– extend vaccination to the general population as quickly as possible.
• Promote public and health professional trust in the utility of COVID-19 vaccines and their implementation to the Australian community.
• Build towards herd immunity, noting that this is subject to:
– uptake of the vaccines in Australia;
– longevity and extent of immunity;
– impact of the vaccines on transmission; and
– further data on the longevity and extent of immunity or the transmission impact of the vaccines.
Approving our vaccines
Before vaccines are made available, they must be approved for use in Australia. We have strict requirements for testing and approving vaccines. This includes the TGA’s rigorous assessment and approval processes for safety, quality and effectiveness.
Before a vaccine is registered for use, it is tested extensively during development and then in thousands of people. Testing first begins with laboratory research, then animal studies and finally human clinical trials. Clinical trials involve testing the vaccine in volunteers, and are conducted in phases. Clinical trials must provide scientific evidence which demonstrates that the benefits of a vaccine greatly outweigh any risks.
Following a thorough and independent review, on 25 January 2021 the TGA provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, meaning it meets the high safety, efficacy and quality standards required for use in Australia. Approval was granted by the TGA through the existing provisional approval pathway.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is provisionally approved by the TGA for people 16 years and older and there is no cap on the upper age range.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is finalising advice for healthcare providers on the use of COVID-19 vaccines, including advice in relation to pregnant women and others, such as frail people, or the elderly. Advice will be finalised once specific consideration of the vaccine candidate is assessed by the TGA. This advice will be made available to the public and health care providers prior to program commencement.
As further vaccines are approved for use by the TGA, information will be available at www.health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines
The TGA will continue to play an active role in the ongoing monitoring of any vaccines available in Australia, and has robust procedures in place to investigate any potential new
The TGA’s vaccine safety monitoring system can rapidly detect, investigate and respond to any emerging safety issues identified for COVID-19 vaccines.
The post-market monitoring relies on reviewing and analysing adverse reaction reports,working with international regulators and reviewing medical literature, media and other
potential sources of new safety information.
Ensuring we first protect people who need it most
The Australian Government is committed to providing all Australians with access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines free of charge. There is significant global demand for safe and effective vaccines to end the COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccines become available, they will be given first to people who are in higher risk groups. More people will have access to a vaccine as more doses become available throughout 2021.
Priority groups have been identified by the medical experts of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Advice has taken into account public health,
medical and epidemiological evidence and is consistent with guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).
ATAGI is continually reviewing data and evidence for vaccines and may update its advice to Government as new information becomes available.
How to get vaccinated
Australians have a great record in being immunised, and Australia’s immunisation rates are world leading with over 95% of five year old children fully vaccinated. Terrible diseases like polio have been eradicated in Australia thanks to effective vaccination. Australia’s seasonal influenza vaccination program continues to provide increasing numbers of vaccines to Australians of all ages, and in 2020 the TGA released more than 17.6 million doses of seasonal flu vaccines for the Australian market.
The COVID-19 vaccines will be voluntary and free and available to all people living in Australia. The Government aims to have as many Australians as possible choose to be vaccinated for COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines available as part of Australia’s diversified portfolio will require two doses between three and four weeks apart.
The Government is finalising arrangements with states and territories and medical experts on how a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed. This includes setting out the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to implement a COVID-19 vaccine program in Australia in 2021.
Details on how to get vaccinated will be available at www.health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines
Where to get vaccinated
Initially, doses will be made available for priority groups in a small number of locations, building to around 50 hospital hubs in urban and rural locations around Australia. Vaccination teams will also go out to aged care and disability residential care facilities. These teams will be managed by the Australian Government.
Initial hospital locations where Australians can get vaccinations will be decided by state and territory governments.
As the rollout continues and greater supply of vaccines become available after Phase 1b, other locations for vaccination will include GP respiratory clinics, general practices that meet specific requirements, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services and state-run vaccination clinics. When vaccines become increasingly more available, some workplace vaccination sites and community pharmacies that meet specific requirements will be added from Phase 2a
Delivering a vaccine that is safe, effective and free
Once a vaccine has provisional approval by the TGA, the Australian Government receives doses into Australia and finalises arrangements for access to first doses. The Australian Government is finalising arrangements with the states and territories and medical experts to ensure safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Implementation plans have been developed with each state and territory Department of Health.
In order to ensure a nationally consistent program and to make sure specific needs are accounted for, implementation plans have also been developed for aged care, the disability sector, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. These plans have been formed in consultation with key stakeholders.
The rollout program will depend on the nature and test results of the vaccines approved for use. It will also take into account current outbreaks, available public health information and advice from the experts such as ATAGI. Further information on the vaccine program rollout will be provided in coming weeks.
The Australian Government has a plan to create new jobs so employment can grow and businesses can come back stronger. This is underpinned by a strong economy that supports our businesses, big and small. The Government is delivering tax cuts, putting more investment in infrastructure and strengthening education and training opportunities. The Government is looking at the best ways to support economic recovery in every part of Australia, for all Australians – boosting growth in local communities, in rural and regional areas, in cities and central business hubs, across all our industries. We are working hard to ensure our plans for moving forward are based on the best possible health advice and economic analysis. We’re continuing to deliver our world-class health response and economic recovery during a fast moving, global pandemic.
Living with COVID-19: a new normal
Vaccination is a key part of the Australian Government’s strategy to eventually ease restrictions while maintaining safety and getting the economy back on track. We are confidently and cautiously taking the first steps in our nation’s vaccination program so that we can reopen in the safest possible way while still living with COVID-19. Vaccination will mean that Australians will be able to start enjoying more freedoms.
But we must be clear: as Australia begins and progresses its vaccination rollout, continued suppression of COVID-19 is about collective action. Success depends on maintaining our community norms – physical distancing, good hygiene practices and downloading the COVIDSafe app to keep us all safe while we are out and about. For businesses and industries, this also means planning for operation during the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and beyond, and understanding what this will mean for workplaces, employees and customers. More details will be available soon, but for now, restrictions remain in place and Australians must comply with specific advice in their states and territories.
Safe controls for COVID-19 will need to be a part of our everyday living for a while yet, but vaccination will put communities and business on the path to removing restrictions.
For now we must:
• Stay 1.5 metres away from other people whenever and wherever we can
• Maintain good hand washing and cough/sneeze hygiene
• Stay home when unwell and get tested if we have respiratory symptoms or fever
• Download the COVIDSafe app so we can find the virus quickly
• Have COVID Safe plans for workplaces and businesses.
Work Health and Safety
We all need to continue to work together to make sure our workplaces are safe. Businesses have an important role to play in encouraging the take-up of vaccines and making it easy for workers to get vaccinated.
Safe Work Australia is developing COVID-19 vaccine Work Health and Safety (WHS) guidance to assist employers, including small business, to manage the risk of COVID-19 in their workplaces. This guidance will add to the substantial amount of COVID-19 WHS information on the Safe Work Australia website at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid19-information-workplaces.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) provides information on the workplace laws, obligations and entitlements for employers and employees affected by COVID-19 and will continue to expand information in relation to vaccines at www.coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au. Safe Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to update their guidance as more information on COVID-19 vaccines becomes available.
Preparing for Australia to re-open internationally
The safety of Australians comes first. The Australian Government will re-open internationally when it is safe to do so. Returning Australians, especially vulnerable Australians, remain the Government’s priority.
To stay COVIDSafe, some controls will still need to remain in place while vaccinations are rolled out and beyond, in consideration of vaccinations being less than 100 per-cent effective in terms of prevention and transmission. Please consult smartraveller.gov.au/covid-19/covid-19/returning-australia for quarantine information, which will continue to evolve as further medical information becomes available about transmission rates after vaccination.
Travel restrictions will remain in place, with the gradual re-opening of international borders, subject to advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
Safely bringing back international students and workers
We look forward to welcoming international students in a COVIDSafe way when it is safe to do so. A range of factors including vaccination status will be considered for international arrivals to ensure protection of international students and the Australian community.
Re-entry of overseas workers and particularly those with critical skills will be an important part of supporting Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Australia’s temporary and permanent migration visa programs future-proof our economy by ensuring that overseas workers complement, but do not displace, job opportunities for Australians, and that skilled migrants are prioritised in areas where they are most needed. The Australian Government’s Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme with Pacific countries and Timor Leste will continue to support labour capacity in rural and regional Australia.
More broadly, Australia’s Migration Program has been designed to be flexible and respond
to changing conditions. The Migration Program will continue to evolve to best support
A connected and informed community
The Australian Government is committed to keeping Australians fully informed and up to date about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including when, how and where to get immunised.
The Australian Government is a trusted source of reliable information. The $23.9 million national public information vaccine campaign will continue to build on the trust we have established throughout the pandemic, providing timely, transparent and reliable information to all Australians.
Information will be rolled out through mainstream and multicultural media, across television, radio, print, digital (online video, display), social, mobile, search and out of home channels. The information in the campaign will be based on expert and independent medical advice, and will help answer the questions people may have.
To ensure the vaccination health campaign is accessible to all Australians, communication will include specific messaging for priority groups, culturally and linguistically diverse groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Advisory committees representing these groups are informing the communications approach. Radio ads will be translated into 15 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Campaign materials will be translated into 32 languages and placed in ethnic media channels to best reach multicultural communities.
Part of the international effort
The Australian Government has committed to providing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the Pacific and South East Asia, including through ensuring that the countries of the Pacific and Timor-Leste can achieve full COVID-19 vaccine coverage. Australia is committing $523 million for a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Pacific and South East Asia, to promote regional stability and economic recovery.
Australia has committed $80 million through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment mechanism to improve access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines for 92 countries around the world.
Australia supports partners including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, World Bank and WHO to not only ensure safe, reliable vaccine procurement, delivery and distribution, but also critical preparatory and public awareness activities. Our support will also assist in resuming impacted trade, labour mobility, travel and tourism across our region.
Where to find further information
For the latest official coronavirus news, updates and advice from the Australian Government visit www.australia.gov.au
Information about COVID-19 vaccines, Australia’s agreements, how they are tested and approved as well as rollout information is available on the Department of Health website at www.health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines
Information about employers’ work health and safety duties in relation to COVID-19 vaccination will be available at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces
Information for Australians overseas, returning Australians and travel to Australia is available at www.smartraveller.gov.au/COVID-19