Analytical chemists at the AstraZeneca laboratories, in Sydney. Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi
Analytical chemists at the AstraZeneca laboratories, in Sydney. Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

Mackay Whitsundays in the dark over vaccine rollout: Expert

An infectious diseases expert says individual Hospital and Health Services will be responsible for managing the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to regional areas, such as Mackay.

But Griffith University's Nigel McMillan said many other unanswered questions remained about the distribution of the vaccine in local communities such as Mackay and the Whitsundays.

"Each health district will manage their own (rollout)," Prof McMillan said.

"How each health service is going to manage that is up to each of those organisations. I don't know how they are going to do that."

Queensland Health has already publicly stated that six major hospitals across the state will deliver the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to those of the highest priority.

These six vaccination hubs include Cairns Hospital, Townsville Hospital, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Sunshine Coast University Hospital and Gold Coast University Hospital.

The first group to receive a vaccination will include quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers, aged care and disability care staff, and aged care and disability care residents.

Professor Nigel McMillan, Director, Infection and Immunity Program Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Medical Sciences Griffith University. Picture: Supplied
Professor Nigel McMillan, Director, Infection and Immunity Program Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Medical Sciences Griffith University. Picture: Supplied

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the state would begin this process as soon as it received the first Pfizer vaccines from the Federal Government.

"Soon we will start receiving stock of the AstraZeneca vaccine, pending approvals, and we will be able to move beyond just these six vaccination hubs," she said.

As Mackay and the Whitsundays will not be included in the six initial hubs, the Daily Mercury contacted a Mackay Hospital and Health Service spokeswoman for further clarification on the local vaccine rollout plan.

This query was referred to Queensland Health, which was unable to provide information on specific locations.

Questions put to Dawson MP George Christensen's office about the Mackay Whitsunday vaccine plan were also referred to the Health Department.

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Analytical chemists are seen working at the AstraZeneca laboratories, in Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi
Analytical chemists are seen working at the AstraZeneca laboratories, in Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

Prof McMillan said he assumed "vaccination teams" would visit frontline healthcare workers, aged and disability care staff at their workplaces to vaccinate them.

He said it was likely the rest of the population would line up at public facilities, pharmacies and GP clinics to receive theirs.

Prof McMillan said the bulk of the general population would receive either the AstraZeneca or Novavax vaccine.

"I think that for regional centres like Mackay where you've had few cases, obviously you're in a good spot like most of Australia, but even better than most of the capital cities," he said.

"The challenge will be in organising a large-scale immunisation of the population, which hasn't been done yet.

"But I think it will happen quite smoothly and rapidly."

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