Rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines in Australia is a matter of balancing speed with safety, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall says.
Mr Marshall says it’s important the availability of the vaccines is fast-tracked, but at the same time Australia must not cut corners in the regulatory and approval processes.
He says the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine will occur first in February, with the AstraZeneca vaccine to follow in March.
“We’re trying to balance two issues here, getting a vaccine rolled out as quickly as possible but also making sure we’re doing it as safely as possible,” the premier told radio FiveAA on Monday.
“And also learning from other jurisdictions who are already going through this fast-track vaccination program.”
Mr Marshall said considering Australia’s success in combating the virus so far, it had the time to be a little more cautious.
But the Labor opposition has questioned why the state government has only just opened a tender process for the vaccine IT management system, with a target start date of March this year.
“It is concerning when the rest of the world is marching forward with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine program, here in South Australia the government has only just started issuing tenders,” opposition health spokesman Chris Picton said.
“Because of the government’s delays, an approved supplier for this IT system won’t be in place until mid-February, by which time the Commonwealth anticipates the rollout will have already started.”
The opposition has revealed its own vaccine rollout strategy which includes appointing a mobilisation co-ordinator-general, dedicated vaccine sites and a distribution plan.
Mr Marshall said there are still some unknowns in relation to the vaccine, particularly how long it might protect people from the virus.
“This could be something we’re going to be having an annual vaccination for,” he said.
“This could be something that really gets built-in to the way we go about our lives.”