An infectious diseases expert who was part of the team which treated Australia’s first coronavirus patient has become the first person in Victoria to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
- Monash Health’s Rhonda Stuart says it’s “amazing” the vaccine is available a year after the first patients were treated
- About 12,000 doses of the vaccine are scheduled for rollout across the state this week
- Victoria has recorded zero new coronavirus cases from 8,277 test results
After beginning with 20 people in Sydney yesterday, the national rollout today began in earnest, with thousands of doses starting to be administered across the country.
Monash Health medical director for infection prevention Rhonda Stuart was the first recipient in Melbourne, shortly after 7:30am.
“I’m really proud to be getting this vaccine and starting the next chapter as our work against COVID,” Professor Stuart said.
“And now our aim is to get all the healthcare workers vaccinated, and then out to the public as well.”
COVID screening nurse Grace Gibney receives one of the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at the Austin Hospital.(ABC News via Mark Stewart/Herald Sun)
Professor Stuart’s team at Monash Health treated the first Australian case of COVID-19 in January 2020, a returned traveller from Wuhan in China.
“It’s amazing that we’ve got to the stage where we can be vaccinating people to protect ourselves against it,” she said.
Victoria will have about 12,000 doses for the first week of phase 1a of the national rollout, and up to 59,000 doses for the first four weeks.
The Pfizer shots will be followed by the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration [TGA] last week.
The state has nine vaccination hubs with super-cool freezers to store the doses, and four — Monash Medical Centre, Sunshine Hospital, Austin Health and University Hospital Geelong — are in operation for the first phase.
Health Minister Martin Foley said it was “a very good day” for Victoria.
“What this program does is add to our public health toolkit of all the measures that we need to be able to respond to, making sure that this is the beginning of the end of this global pandemic,” he said.
Elaine Madden says she’s hopeful the vaccine will help life return to normal.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)
The state-led rollout began on the same day as the federal effort to vaccinate residents in Commonwealth-run aged care facilities.
Elaine Madden, 87, was the first person to be vaccinated at Homestead Estate aged care facility at Wallington on the Bellarine Peninsula.
“I feel very grateful that it’s available. I’ve said to everybody ‘you’re crazy if you don’t have it. Crazy’,” she said.
Victoria ‘on the offensive’ against virus
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Frontline workers in healthcare, hotel quarantine and aged care will be among the first people to receive a shot.
Rachel Hogben, an intensive care unit nurse manager from Dandenong Hospital, worked with a team which treated up to 35 coronavirus patients at one time during the state’s second wave.
“I’m a little bit more emotional than I thought I would be,” she said after receiving her injection.
She said it was “an amazing day”.
“We’re now on the offensive, we’re no longer acting defensively against this, we’re actually on the offensive,” she said.
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Infectious diseases expert Ben Cowie says both vaccines are ‘extremely effective’ in preventing COVID-19 deaths.
There has been a surveyed rise in vaccine hesitancy in Australia, despite scientific evidence pointing to the safety and efficacy of the inoculations being used in Australia.
“These vaccines are very safe, and have been through an incredibly rigorous approval protocol, administered by the Commonwealth TGA,” said infectious diseases expert Ben Cowie, who is leading the state’s vaccine rollout.
Professor Cowie said it was incumbent on the government and health professionals to engage with the community to address the reasons people might be hesitant.
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In approving it for use, the TGA said AstraZeneca had shown to be safe and prevent COVID-19, but it was not clear yet whether it prevented transmission or asymptomatic disease.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said there was no specific target for vaccine coverage that would definitely allow life to return to normal.
“The primary aim of this is direct protection. So I, you, get vaccinated so we don’t get sick,” Professor Cheng told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Virginia Trioli.
“So that’s the primary aim of this exercise. But as a secondary benefit, if I get vaccinated and it prevents me passing it onto other people, that’s sort of a bonus.
“We don’t know exactly the degree of that protection.”
Doctor Chris Quinn, who has been working in hotel quarantine, after receiving his coronavirus vaccine at the Austin Hospital.(ABC News via Mark Stewart/Herald Sun)
Victoria records zero community coronavirus cases for third straight day
Victoria has recorded zero coronavirus cases for the third day in a row, from 8,277 test results processed on Sunday.
There were no infections detected in the community or in hotel quarantine.
There is still one person being treated for COVID-19 in a Victorian hospital.
Just over 8,000 test results were processed on Sunday, down almost 40,000 from a week earlier.(ABC News: Simon Tucci, file photo)
The state “paused” its intake of international flights into the state when it announced a snap five-day lockdown on Friday, February 12.
The lockdown was introduced over fears the UK strain of the virus, which authorities at the time called “hyper infectious”, could be spreading in the community after leaking from hotel quarantine.
The Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport outbreak has grown to at least 22 infections, with the last three announced on Friday.
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Posted 1dday agoSunSunday 21 FebFebruary 2021 at 8:42pm, updated YesterdayMonMonday 22 FebFebruary 2021 at 5:41am