COVID-19: Where first local vaccine recipients will get jab

Northern Rivers and Clarence Valley people first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine will have to travel to get their jabs.

According to information released by NSW Health, the first round of vaccinations will be delivered by a series of hubs based at hospitals across the state.

For northern NSW residents, that means a trip to Coffs Harbour hospital, which is the only hospital north of Newcastle set to deliver the first stage of the vaccine rollout.

It is part of what is called Phase 1a of the vaccine roll out, which due to the limited doses of the vaccine available in Australia in the first few months will be restricted to these hubs. The other hubs will be located at RPA, Westmead and Liverpool hospitals, followed by Hornsby, St George, Nepean, Newcastle, Wollongong, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga hospitals.

Grafton Base Hospital COVID-19 clinic coordinator Troy Armstrong at the clinic.
Grafton Base Hospital COVID-19 clinic coordinator Troy Armstrong at the clinic.

According to NSW Health, some frontline health facility workers and quarantine facility workers will be given access to the vaccine in the first phase of the vaccination program. The NSW Ministry of Health is working with all Local Health Districts and Networks in NSW to identify the staff who will be considered for vaccination during the first phase of the program. Eligible staff will be informed by their management about how, when and where they will be able to get vaccinated.

Healthcare workers who will be considered for prioritisation in Phase 1a of the vaccination program include:

  • Ambulance and patient transport staff
  • Emergency department staff
  • Critical care ward staff (ICUs and HDUs, ECMO and medical retrieval teams)
  • COVID clinic and COVID testing staff (public and private)
  • COVID ward staff
  • COVID immunisation clinic staff
  • COVID pathology lab staff (public and private)
  • Workers at the Special Health Accommodation facility.
  • The first Aussies to get the COVID jab: Alexandra Foster explains who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first and when
    The first Aussies to get the COVID jab: Alexandra Foster explains who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first and when

In addition, staff supporting the above areas will be considered for prioritisation in the Phase 1a of vaccination. This will include cleaners (including contracted cleaning staff), phlebotomists, wards persons (and related roles such as portering and orderly staff), infection control staff, radiology staff, physiotherapists, pharmacy staff, security, social workers, mental health / drug and alcohol consultation liaison staff, medical/surgical team doctors and nurse consultants who may be expected to attend ED, ICU or COVID wards/clinics as part of their normal duties.

Other healthcare workers will be prioritised to receive a vaccine from Phase 1b. A COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be more generally available from mid-2021. The vaccination program will be rolled out throughout 2021.

A spokesman from NSW Health said that if vaccine supply increases during Phase 1a, additional vaccination hubs, spokes and outreach clinics may be able to be supported.

There is good news for the rest of the population, with the spokesman saying that once more vaccine doses become available from Phase 1b, it is expected that one or more COVID-19 vaccines will be available for the wider population.

These will come through usual immunisation providers, including GP practices, GP respiratory clinics and Aboriginal health services.

Australia has entered into purchase agreements for Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as the Novavax vaccine. These vaccines require two doses. The first doses of Pfizer vaccine are expected to be available in Australia from late February. The Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine may arrive in March.