Second Pfizer vaccine shipment lands in Australia as Labor, Greens leaders get their first doses

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The arrival of tens of thousands more Pfizer COVID-19 doses has been hailed by Health Minister Greg Hunt as another step towards a more normal Australia.

It comes as Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Greens Leader Adam Bandt attended the Canberra Hospital’s COVID-19 surge clinic on Tuesday morning for their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The second shipment of Pfizer vaccines arrived on Monday night.

A shipment of 166,000 doses of that vaccine arrived in Australia on Monday night, Mr Hunt said, and a further 120,000 are expected to arrive next week.

The broader vaccine rollout began on Monday, with frontline healthcare workers, border and quarantine staff and aged care residents all lining up for immunisations around the country.

The vaccine rollout means stranded Australians could be brought home more quickly as hotel quarantine programs expand following mass vaccinations of border and quarantine staff.

“We’ve seen Australians being given the vaccines, and this is the start of a program which will help protect lives and saved lives across Australia and give people a pathway to returning to a more normal lifestyle,” he said.

The rough 290,000 doses secured over the next two weeks will be split in the same way as the first shipment: 80,000 will be made available each week, with 50,000 divided between states and territories and 30,000 for aged care facilities. The remainer will be held for future use.

“We’re always provisioning for the second doses which is the recommendation of our medical advisors and making sure that we have contingency if at any stage they were an issue with the supply chain,” Mr Hunt said.

“But I have to say, the consistency of supply has been strong and heartening.”

Mr Hunt said Pfizer gave him “good, strong confidence” on future deliveries.

“That just gives Australians, confidence, gives us confidence in terms of the effectiveness of the vaccines, and confidence in terms of the reliability of supply which is very important.”

Mr Albanese and Mr Bandt were the latest in a string of high profile Australians to receive the vaccine. On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison got his first dose, alongside Chief Health Officer Professor Paul Kelly and Chief Nursing Officer Professor Alison McMillan.

On Monday, Mr Hunt said it was not about politicians skipping the queue, but rather about showing confidence in the vaccines.

“There is a reticence about being seen to seek a priority and none of us have wanted to do that,” he said.

“But equally, there’s a duty to provide that confidence, and so what we’re doing is showing, if we think it’s safe, if we’re willing to do this, then it’s safe for every Australian.”

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