The Covid-19 vaccine roll out – what is the plan?

22nd February 2021, Dr Chee LKhoo

The roll out

You would have heard the big fanfare yesterday when the first recipients of the Covid-19 vaccine was shown on TV. The PM was the twelve on the list. This was all part of the so-called Phase 1A where “real” frontline workers, emergency response workers, aged care residents and the workers looking after them were vaccinated. What about the rest of us?

Phase 1B will begin “shortly” but we have no idea when. Since registering to be part of the Phase 1B roll out, GPs have not heard further as to the details nor when. I gather from my sources that, they are still working out how the vaccine ordering system is going to work. Actually, they don’t have an ordering system yet! Phase 1B, when operational, will include people >70 years old and patients with “significant” medical risks. Due to storage requirements, the vaccine involved will be the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine made in Australia. It is anticipated that it will be closer to mid March before the first batches of the vaccine gets out of the CSL plant in Broadmeadow in Victoria. When it arrives to individual practices will be another matter.

Phase 2 was supposed to begin when the first jab in Phase 1B have pretty much completed but in reality, with stock availability, Phase 2 will probably begin before Phase 1B finishes. So, there may only be a matter of a few weeks between the two phases. But if we were to experience the same Influenza vaccine roll out like last year, it is going to me many weeks or months of stopping and starting with stocks coming and not coming over the coming months which will drive all of us mad.

Thus, this is how I see the vaccine roll out will be:

  • Phase 1B for >70 years old – first jab probably mid to end of March if not April
  • Phase 2 for the rest – first jab probably mid April onwards

We have to fit the flu vaccine in there somewhere. This have to be 2 weeks away from the Covid-19 jabs. The Therapeutics Goods Administration have recommended the two Covid-19 vaccines be given 12 weeks apart. So, this is the schedule:

  • Covid-19 jab 1
  • 4 weeks later, Fluvaccine
  • Another 8 weeks later, Covid-19 jab 2.

At healthfocus family practice, all Covid-19 vaccinations will be bulk billed but they have to be made on a vaccine only appointment. Each multi-dose vials contain 10 doses and once opened must be used by the end of the day. Thus, we will vaccinate exactly 30 patients a day at the practice strictly by appointments so we do not waste and “leftovers”. We will have more details when we hear about stocks arriving.

Visit us here closer to mid-March or give us a call close to that time. Remember, there is no hurry or panic. It will all get done in an organised manner at the practice.