Australia has committed almost $2 billion for local COVID-19 vaccine rollout and acquired an extra 10 million doses of the Pfizer immunisation, a feat Canberra says will ensure the full vaccination of all Australians as well as residents in neighbouring Pacific islands.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says $1.9 billion has been allocated to help hospitals and medical centres deliver the jabs to everyone on Australian soil.
This will include refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection and bridging visa holders and those in detention — groups that are among the most vulnerable to the effects of the virus, with many living in cramped conditions with limited access to healthcare and reliable information.
Morrison said the first Australian jabs would occur by month's end, and that the population will be fully vaccinated by October.
Around 200,000 people will need to be vaccinated a day to achieve the October goal.
"We will need to prioritise the most vulnerable and those likely to experience a serious disease, as well as frontline health and care workers and other essential service workers,” he said during a speech.
Morrison added: “We have not forgotten our overseas partners, our family here in our region. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for International Development and the Pacific are already working with their counterparts on a dedicated vaccines program designed around the needs and health systems of our Pacific family and Southeast Asian neighbours.”
The 10 million Pfizer addition brings the nation’s total number of COVID-19 doses to 150 million.
Great to virtually address the CALD Community Leaders Roundtable yesterday from Parliament House.— Greg Hunt (@GregHuntMP) February 4, 2021
Making safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to everyone in Australia is a key priority for the Australian Government. pic.twitter.com/1cW2dTB2Jz
Australia has already pledged hundreds of millions to aid the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to its closest neighbours.
In November, half a billion was committed to achieve “full immunisation coverage” in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, a figure that builds upon a $305 million COVID-19 recovery package for the Pacific and Timor-Leste announced in October.
An additional $80 million has been provided to the COVAXAccess to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which aims to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for up to 94 lower-income countries, including Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Samoa.
"What we don't want to do is just give money for the procurement of the vaccine, and not provide the other support," Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja said, according to Canberra Times. "It's not just about procurement. We will help with that end to end support, and it'll be a little bit tailored to each nation, we'll work with each of them.”