Today's national government media release regarding COVID, offering an insight into public health promotion, states
An important education campaign will be rolled out to inform Australians ahead of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
The vaccination roll-out will be a complex task and it will be important that people understand the process with the first vaccinations on track for early next year.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said the Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook 20-21 (MYEFO) reinforces the Australian Government’s commitment to continue to protect the community and get lives back to normal through this pandemic.
“The information campaign, with funding of $23.9 million, will work in partnership with the states and medical experts, to explain the regulatory processes, the priority groups, timing and roll-out to assist people to understand how the vaccines work, and to be ready for when they can receive the vaccine,” said Minister Hunt.
“The vaccines will be voluntary and free, we encourage people to have the vaccine to protect themselves and their family.”
“It is essential that people understand that Australia’s medical regulatory processes need to occur before the vaccines are approved for use. We are receiving data from overseas and this will assist in finalising the priority groups for the vaccinations, putting our health and aged care workers in the first wave along with elderly Australians who are at most risk from the virus,” Minister Hunt said.
The COVID-19 vaccine communications will include a national advertising campaign and communication specifically targeting priority groups, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Over $40 million in funding is being provided to streamline processes necessary to the approval and distribution, so the clinical information can be assessed in real time.
The funding for Services Australia, the Australian Digital Health Agency and Therapeutic Goods Administration will allow necessary enhancements aimed at reducing existing manual processes and improving digital integration across these systems.
The Government is also improving critical capacity requirements for the Australian Immunisation Register, as the Government’s central resource for recording COVID-19 vaccinations so people will have a record of their vaccination. This will be essential as all current vaccines planned for Australia require a two-vaccine process.
The Government is securing 20 million additional doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This brings the total number of doses to 53.8 million – enough for the entire Australian population.
The extra 20 million doses will be produced in Australia by CSL.
Additionally, a further 11 million doses of the Novavax vaccine will be purchased, bringing the total for this vaccine to 51 million. This will be an additional whole-of-population vaccine should it be proven to be safe and effective.
A purchasing agreement is also in place for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, with 10 million doses scheduled for early 2021.
Building Australia’s vaccine manufacturing capacity
The Australian Government is investing $1 billion to ensure Australia’s capacity to manufacture vaccines in the future, though its supply agreement with Seqirus.
The Government will extend the current supply agreement with Seqirus, ensuring long-term, onshore manufacturing and supply of products of national significance including pandemic influenza vaccines, Q fever vaccines, and Australian-specific antivenoms from 1 July 2024 through to 2036. Under this agreement, Seqirus will invest more than $800 million in a new state-of-the-art biotech manufacturing facility in Melbourne.