Little more than a year ago, COVID-19 arrived on Australian shores, completely changing our way of life.
It's hard to believe that vaccines have already been developed to ward off the deadly virus, but they have - a testament to modern medicine, technological advancement and international cooperation.
On Sunday, Sydney aged care resident Jane Malysiak became the first Australian to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as she sat alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who got the jab soon after.
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Meanwhile, in Tasmania, the vaccine rollout commenced yesterday at aged care facilities in the state's North and North-West.
But what happens next? When will all Tasmanians be eligible to receive the vaccine and how should one go about arranging one's jab? We at The Examiner have endeavoured to answer these questions, and more.
Two COVID-19 vaccines - the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines - have already been provisionally approved by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Association, having been subjected to a rigorous and independent review process.
Australia has secured an initial 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine - which must be stored at about -70 degrees - and has reached an agreement for the supply of an additional 10 million doses later this year.
Meanwhile, 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is set to be manufactured in Melbourne by CSL, have been locked in.
There are also 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine on order for later in the year, should it be approved by the TGA.
The first people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be people in high-risk workplaces, as well as those who are most vulnerable to the virus.
Phase 1a of the rollout in Australia will see aged care and disability care residents and staff, as well as border and quarantine workers and frontline healthcare workers (in settings such as hospital emergency departments and intensive care units) receive the vaccine. These people will be contacted directly to make a vaccination appointment, whereas those in the latter stages of the rollout will be required to go through a booking system.
The Tasmanian government is aiming to have fully vaccinated Tasmania's priority populations of about 14,000 people by the middle of April.
Phase 1b involves the administation of the vaccine to people aged 80 and over, people aged 70 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the age of 55, remaining healthcare workers and adults with underlying medical conditions.
In Phase 2a, Adults aged 60-69 years and 50-59 years, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18-54, and other critical and high-risk workers, will have the opportunity to be vaccinated.
It's in Phase 2b that the country's remaining population will get the jab.
A potential Phase 3 could follow for children, but that's only if it's clinically recommended and approved.
The state government says all Tasmanians will be able to be vaccinated by the end of October this year.
In the early stage of the rollout, multi-dose vials of the Pfizer vaccine are being delivered to about 240 aged care homes in more than 190 different towns around Australia, while 16 hospital hubs across the country have been set up for high-risk frontline workers to get immunised.
Initially, the Royal Hobart Hospital will be the only Pfizer hub in Tasmania, due to the fact that quarantine facilities for international workers are located in the state capital, therefore presenting the greatest risk of COVID transmission. The Launceston General Hospital and the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie will be utilised as hubs from March.
Federal government-managed vaccination teams will administer the jab to aged care and disability care residents and staff - they will not be required to go to a hospital hub.
The North and North-West of the state are being targeted first during Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout, namely aged care facilities at Burnie, Newstead, Norwood, Penguin, Somerset, St Leonards, Ulverstone and Wynyard.
In later stages of the rollout, locations such as GP respiratory clinics, some general practices, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services and vaccination clinics will be utilised.
Two. For the Pfizer vaccine, it's recommended that three weeks pass between doses; for AstraZeneca, three months between the two doses is advised.
No. The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory. But Australians are being strongly advised to get the jab - which doesn't cost anything - to aid the nation's recovery and facilitate a return to the normality we knew pre-pandemic.
As mentioned above, the TGA has signed off on both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, deeming them safe. Furthermore, clinical trials found that the Pfizer vaccine was 95 per cent effective against COVID-19.
The Tasmanian government has noted that while the vaccine may not be mandatory, it's possible proof of vaccination may be required when travelling to certain destinations in the future, and also that workers in certain high-risk workforces could be left with no choice but to roll up their sleeve for the jab. According to the government, exemptions will be available for people unable to be vaccinated if either of these scenarios do eventuate.
State Health Minister Sarah Courtney said every Tasmanian was encouraged to get vaccinated when they were eligible.
"Tasmanians have a great record in supporting immunisation programs and by making it as accessible as possible to all eligible Tasmanians, we are confident people will heed the call," she said. "Tasmanians are urged to speak with their GP if they have any questions they want to talk through."
"We will continue to take expert advice on the COVID-19 vaccination, including with respect to high risk settings."
Whether you have a temporary visa, are a refugee or asylum seeker, are in a detention centre or have had your visa cancelled, you will still be given the opportunity to receive a free vaccine against COVID-19.
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