The NT Government has started the first phase of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout with frontline health care and quarantine workers getting the jab today.
More than 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to be administered across Australia by the end of the week, with the first shipment arriving in Darwin on Sunday.
The NT Government said 3,000 vaccinations for frontline workers are targeted during Phase 1A of the vaccination rollout in the Top End.
“Our frontline and quarantine staff have worked so hard to protect Territorians through the pandemic, and now we can provide extra protection against COVID-19 to them,” Michelle McKay, Lead for the Territory’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout said.
The Federal Government meanwhile will provide 1500 jabs to Northern Territory aged and disability care staff and residents.
The Pfizer vaccine will be administered as part of Phase 1A and requires two doses, 21 days apart, to be effective against the virus, the government said.
The NT Government said Phase 1B – that will include all other health care workers, elderly Territorians over the age of 70, Indigenous Territorians over the age of 55, other critical and high-risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing workers, and younger adults with disabilities and underlying medical conditions – is anticipated to begin near the end of March.
The frontline’s vaccination against coronavirus has been rolled out at Royal Darwin Hospital Monday, while first residents of Central Australia will be vaccinated on Wednesday, the health minister has said.
“We will be vaccinating the first residents of Central Australia on Wednesday at the Alice Springs Hospital,” Health Minister Natasha Fyles told ABC Radio Darwin on Monday.
“We will have that hub at the Royal Darwin hospital but we’re able to provide outreach, using the vaccine in smaller containers using dry ice, we’re able to transport it and so we’re firstly focused on Darwin and Alice Springs getting those frontline health workers, and then we can start to roll it out to communities a little further afield.”
The NT’s health authorities have also assured Territorians that the vaccines approved by the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration are safe and effective against COVID-19. They have reiterated that people should avoid unverified information about the vaccines.
“The vaccine is safe, effective and free – it has passed a rigorous approvals process including assessment of its safety, quality and effectiveness over many weeks, by Australian and international experts,” Ms McKay said.
“I encourage them as I said earlier to read factual articles to look to sources of truth, but this vaccine will allow us to step forward into what was the normal we knew before the global pandemic,” Ms Fyles added.
Meanwhile, the Council on the Ageing NT CEO Sue Shearer said that at least 30 per cent of seniors in the NT are skeptical or anxious about the vaccination with some saying that they don’t want anything foreign in their bodies.
“Unfortunately, they’ve been listening to some misinformation on Facebook,” Ms Shearer told ABC Radio Darwin. “There’s still an ignorant attitude out there about Covid .”
She also said that some seniors are worried about the vaccine’s side-effects.
Ms Fyles said the government is not currently looking into legislating a law that would allow businesses to ban unvaccinated people, however, she said that if other jurisdictions passed such laws the government would follow and investigate it.
“The Northern Territory is not actively looking at changing any legislation to do with this but if we were to see the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions do that, we certainly would look at what they’ve done and why they’ve done it,” she said.