Today marks 12 months since Tasmania identified our first COVID-19 case and not long after, our Government took unprecedented steps to protect our community. Throughout the pandemic, the Tasmanian Government’s priority has been protecting the health, wellbeing and safety of Tasmanians.
Twelve months on, we’re heading into the second week of our state-based vaccination program, having led the nation in terms of virtually exhausting our entire allocation last week - followed by the ACT at 84 per cent of its allocation, and then NSW at 74 per cent of theirs.
Already, 1,159 Tasmanians have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine under our program last week. These are frontline workers, staff working at our testing clinics, and quarantine and border control staff - workers who have been at the forefront of our response to COVID.
Our Phase 1A clinic at the Royal Hobart Hospital is again ready to vaccinate another cohort of Tasmanians. Another tray of 195 vials has arrived and the vaccination program continues from today until the end of the week, with almost every last appointment already filled.
I can confirm our vaccination program remains on track to commence at the Launceston General Hospital and North West Regional Hospital in mid-March, with the clinics at both hubs in the process of finalising set up, training and testing.
The Federal Government’s announcement of the first 300,000 AstraZeneca vaccines that arrived on Sunday is another boost to our capacity to vaccinate our population and we will be working closely with the Federal Government on the logistics of distributing these vaccines, and how we can get that rollout moving as soon as we possibly can.
While the vaccine rollout marks a significant step on the road to getting back to our pre-COVID way of life, we know it will not be the silver bullet.
Tasmanians will still need to do what they can to socially distance, maintain good hand hygiene, and keep checking into venues to assist with contact tracing in the event it is needed.
There is no doubt vaccinating the community will take time, and we have a long way to go, but it’s important to be very clear that there will be enough vaccine doses available for everyone and Tasmanians will be given plenty of notice around what they will need to do to book an appointment when their time comes.
The COVID vaccines have been approved by the Commonwealth TGA – they are safe, effective and free for every Tasmanian.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Tasmanians for helping us keep our community safe and for continuing to follow the restrictions we have in place while we continue to roll out one of the biggest health logistical exercises in our nation’s history.