Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination plan remains on track as authorities continue to monitor the rollout overseas, but there are no plans for the jab to be an alternative to quarantine.
Acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly told reporters on Wednesday that the vaccination plan was “on target”.
“We are going ahead with all of those preparatory phases, which includes the procurement of vaccines, making sure that those deliveries are coming when they need to be here, that our regulators are continuing to work through this period and are eagerly awaiting further information from both AstraZeneca and Pfizer in the coming days,” he said.
Professor Kelly said there were still no “full approvals” anywhere in the world for a COVID-19 vaccine, and only emergency use was happening in some parts of the world where it was needed.
“They are very limited and we are now a few weeks into that situation in the UK, in the US and other places,” he said.
“(We) are watching very closely what is happening in relation to, firstly, the plans of the rollout and how that’s working, what we can learn from those things but particularly any safety concerns that may emerge with this increased numbers of vaccines that have been given in other parts of the world.”
Professor Kelly said the Therapeutic Goods Administration would do a fast but thorough assessment.
“People should have confidence in that regulatory approach here in Australia, particularly around safety but also quality of these brand new vaccines,” he said.
Asked about the idea of a vaccine passport or immunity passport, Professor Kelly said there would be no change to quarantine rules for now.
“If people have been vaccinated or not, they will be having 14 days quarantine for the time being,” he said.
“We have some time to consider these matters, but for the moment, vaccination will not be an alternative to 14-day quarantine.”
Regarding the Sydney cricket Test match, Professor Kelly said he was happy for it to go ahead if NSW authorities supported it but noted nine days was a long period in COVID-19 times.
Professor Kelly, who described himself as a “cricket tragic”, said he would not be taking his family to the match due to their vulnerabilities.
He said he hoped 2021 would be better than this year.
“I think it has been a very long year for everyone, and there is great hope with the vaccines — that is certainly something that we should pin our hope on early in the New Year,” he said.
“That will change the way we are able to deal with this virus into the next year.”