Half of first wave vaccines to be regional and rural aged care

Half of first wave vaccines to be regional and rural aged care

Politics
ROLLOUT: Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack at vaccine distribution centre.

ROLLOUT: Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack at vaccine distribution centre.

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The rollout will kick off next week and the most vulnerable citizens in the regions will be first in line.

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RURAL and regional aged care facilities will make up almost half of the initial COVID-19 vaccination locations, as the rollout commences next week.

Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said protecting the most vulnerable citizens in the regions was "an absolute priority".

Residents and staff in 134 regional and rural aged care facilities - almost 44 per cent of the initial vaccination locations - will be among those who get their first COVID-19 vaccine next week.

"We are fortunate to have in AstraZeneca a vaccine that is well suited to be deployed right across the vast expanses of the country," Mr Coulton said.

"We have also been working hard to ensure the unique [-70 degrees] storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine are not a barrier for our regional areas."

Further rural and regional sites will be finalised in the coming weeks, including GPs, respiratory clinics, pharmacies, vaccination clinics and Indigenous community health centres.

"The government's call out to GPs and community pharmacies will strengthen the rollout and will allow people living in regional, rural and remote communities to access COVID-19 vaccinations side by side with the rest of the nation," Mr Coulton said.

"Surge workforce announced last week will partner with peak organisations and other providers to assist in administering the vaccine for harder-to-reach populations, such as rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

"The federal government will continue to work closely with state and territory governments and key stakeholders to ensure communities in regional, rural and remote Australia are informed about the rollout."

The government is also forming a Remote Vaccine Working Group with the state governments and regional health stakeholders.

The group will meet for the first time next week and will be used to quickly address any issues with the remote rollout.

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