Victorians have begun receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as the state records a third consecutive day without a new case.
The first Victorian to roll up her sleeve and receive the Pfizer vaccine on Monday morning was Rhonda Stuart, the head of infection control at Monash Health.
“I’m really proud to be getting this vaccine and starting the next chapter in our work against COVID,” she told reporters.
“Now the aim is to get all our healthcare workers vaccinated and then out to the public as well.”
Professor Stuart’s team treated Victoria’s first confirmed COVID-19 case in January last year and hundreds of others since.
“It’s 14 months since we saw the first patient. So amazing we’ve got to this stage where we can be vaccinating people to protect ourselves against it, it’s really wonderful,” she said.
About 100 health care workers will be vaccinated at Monash Medical Centre on Monday, one of the state’s three active vaccine hubs.
Nurse Rachel Hogben, who manages the intensive care unit at Dandenong Hospital, said she felt relieved to receive the jab.
“I’m actually a little bit more emotional than I thought that I would be,” she said.
“I feel like this is the way forward … we’re no longer acting defensively against this, we’re now on the offensive and it’s an amazing day.”
Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng hopes the vaccine rollout is the beginning of the end of the state’s long battle against COVID-19.
“There’s still a lot of work to do and it feels like it’s taken a long time to get to this starting line, but I think it really gives us hope,” he told ABC’s Radio National.
Austin Health and Western Health have also begun administering the vaccine.
Among the first to be vaccinated at Austin Health were nurse Grace Gibney, who manages the hospital’s COVID-19 screening clinic, and Chris Quinn, a registered mental health nurse working in the state’s hotel quarantine program.
Other recipients in line to immediately receive the long-awaited jab include hotel quarantine, airport and port workers, as well as aged care staff and residents.
The federal government is expected to allocate 59,000 Pfizer vaccine doses to Victoria over the first four weeks of the program.
It comes as Victoria recorded a third consecutive day with no local cases of COVID-19, following 8277 tests.
There are 25 active cases across the state, including one man in hospital.
Health Minister Martin Foley said two indeterminate test results were received on Sunday for hotel quarantine workers at the Novotel and Pullman hotels.
The duo were “well and truly negative” in follow-up tests.
“This just goes to show the risk-averse nature in which those daily test results are dealt with,” Mr Foley said.