Canberra's healthcare workers could get the COVID-19 jab as soon as next Monday, with government officials announcing the territory's five-stage plan to roll out the vaccine.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith on Monday confirmed what has long been expected; frontline workers will be the first in the ACT to get the vaccine.
The healthcare workers will get an email telling them how to book their vaccination, which will be administered at the Garran Surge Centre.
The site has been used as a testing centre for coronavirus since it opened in July, but it will take on the dual role as a vaccine hub and testing site from next week.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said coronavirus vaccines would be free for all adults in the territory, but most wouldn't be eligible to get one until July this year at the earliest.
Everyone who gets a Pfizer vaccination will have to get a second dose at least three weeks later for it to be effective.
Government officials were initially cautious about confirming whether vaccinations would go ahead as planned from next week, but the first shipment of vaccine landed in Sydney on Monday and is expected to be approved for rollout in the coming days.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT would receive about 1000 doses of Pfizer for the first couple of weeks of the territory's vaccine rollout. How much it received after that would depend on supply and demand.
"[The Garran Surge Centre] operates as two separate facilities and with separate entrances for testing and for vaccinations," she said.
"This means that it can continue to operate safely as a testing site and for a vaccination service."
ACT officials have remained tight-lipped on where the vaccine will be stored because of security concerns, although security at Canberra Hospital is set to be beefed up ahead of the rollout.
Pfizer needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees.
Mr Barr said the vaccine rollout represented "one of the biggest" logistical challenges the nation had faced in living memory, with many operational and communication challenges.
He said he expected to get the jab later in the year as part of the fifth and final stage of the territory's rollout.
"I don't feel personally there's a particular need to appease an anti-vaxxer community in the ACT for politicians here to get vaccinated, but that's an individual decision," he said.
Ms Stephen-Smith detailed the five stages of the rollout.
She said about 4000 people were expected to be vaccinated in the first stage, "a1", including frontline workers and residential aged care and disability care residents.
Frontline workers would account for high-risk healthcare workers like those at COVID-19 testing clinics and in emergency departments, those handling pathology samples, staff in COVID wards, staff in respiratory clinics, workers at residential aged care and disability care facilities and relevant paramedics.
It would also account for quarantine and border workers - like airline, Border Force and Defence staff - who had contact with people as they moved through Australia's borders.
Some frontline workers, like Border Force workers, were yet to be notified about their ability to get the vaccine, but would soon be informed and would have to follow the same booking process as healthcare workers.
The second stage of the rollout, dubbed "1b", was expected to start in March this year.
Officials said it would include vaccinations for the following people: those over 70, other healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55, adults with an underlying medical condition, and critical workers including emergency services workers.
The third stage, called "2a", would include those aged between 50 and 69, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged between 18 and 54, and other critical and high-risk workers.
Canberra's remaining adult population - so, people under 50 who weren't Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander - could be vaccinated from July this year, while children could get a coronavirus jab from September.
When can I get the vaccine in Canberra?
Stage 1a (to start next week): High-risk healthcare workers, quarantine and border workers, residents and staff of residential aged and disability care facilities.
Stage 1b (expected to start March 2021): Adults over 70, other healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55, adults with an underlying medical condition, critical and high-risk workers.
Stage 2a (expected to start May 2021): Adults aged between 50 and 69, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged between 18 and 54, other critical and high-risk workers.
Stage 2b (expected to start July 2021): Remaining adult population.
Stage 3 (expected to start September 2021): People 16 years and younger, if recommended.
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