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Marshall, Spurrier among first to get COVID jab in SA

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South Australia’s first vaccinations for COVID-19 have been administered, with the premier and senior officials among the first to be jabbed to mark the start of the state’s “biggest-ever peacetime operation”.

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The first 4000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in SA on Sunday, with the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre now open as the state’s first vaccination hubs.

Of the first round of doses, 1700 will go to frontline workers, more than 1000 to medi-hotel staff and a further 500 to Adelaide Airport staff.

“Phase 1A” of the rollout will also see 50 medi-hotel transfer staff and more than 70 airport SAPOL Red Zone staff received the vaccine.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier, Premier Steven Marshall and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens were among the first to receive the jab at the RAH’s Covid clinic this morning.

Spurrier said she was “so excited” that the vaccination program was underway.

“It’s been a gruelling 12 months for so many of us,” she said.

“People have lost their jobs, we’ve had business impacted and the border closures have had such a profound effect on so many South Australians.

“With this vaccine, it’s the next step in being able to prevent this pandemic and the effects that it has had on our society.”

Spurrier said she had full confidence in the safety of the jab and urged as many people as possible to take part.

“I feel very privileged to be among the first people in Australia to receive this vaccine,” she said.

Of SA’s initial supply, 3000 doses will be distributed from the Royal Adelaide Hospital and 1000 from the Flinders Medical Centre.

The Lyell McEwin Hospital will open as a vaccination hub in two weeks, while a further six hubs will open across the state in the coming months.

There are 12,000 Pfizer doses allocated to SA for the first three weeks of the vaccine rollout, with the federal government expected to deliver 8000 vaccines to the state in the coming weeks.

Among the first frontline workers to take part was nurse Annabel Thomas who has worked in Adelaide’s quarantine hotels and who also spent time in Victoria during Melbourne’s second-wave of infections last year.

“I can’t stress enough to all South Australians that vaccination is a vital part of getting back to life pre-COVID,” she said.

“I’d strongly suggest everyone be a part of this program.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the vaccine program was vital to ensure South Australia could continue to enjoy a low level of restrictions.

“What we’ve also seen so far from other jurisdictions is that as they roll out the vaccine they are massively reducing those people who are needing critical care,” he said.

“We’ve seen some devastating scenes around the world. We don’t want those scenes here in South Australia.”

SA today recorded no new cases of COVID-19 from a total of 2436 tests.

There are three active cases in the state.

Anti-vaxxers rebuked amid concern about public confidence

SA authorities also sent a strong message to anti-vaxxers this morning, after several hundred marched from Victoria Square to Parliament House on Saturday to protest the roll out of the vaccine.

The march in Adelaide was part of a coordinated series of protests across the country against “enforced COVID-19 vaccinations”, despite repeated assurances from state and federal health authorities that the vaccine will be voluntary.

Spurrier called out the protestors for spreading a message that was “quite clearly wrong”.

“I know that there were certainly people out, and wanting to have their voices heard,” Spurrier said.

“I think one of the messages that was quite clearly wrong was that they thought it (the vaccine) was mandatory – there is no way that this vaccine is mandatory.

“I feel very confident that South Australians will get the right information, will do their homework and understand that this is safe.”

The call to vaccinate comes amid growing concern about public confidence in the vaccine, after an Australian National University Study published this month found more than one in five Australians (21.7 per cent) would not get the vaccine – up from 12.7 per cent in August last year.

The study aligned with figures from a federal Health Department poll which found more than a quarter (27 per cent) of Australians were unsure about getting the jab, prompting the country’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly to concede it will be a challenge to achieve high vaccination rates across the country

The premier today said it was important South Australians demonstrate a “similar level of cooperation” with the vaccine rollout as they have with restrictions imposed throughout the pandemic.

“Now some people are a bit anxious about vaccinations, some people might even say it’s not for me, ‘I’m young, I don’t need it’,” Marshall said.

“The simple facts of the matter are that the vaccination is safe, and it’s really important to get it.

“The more people that are vaccinated the safer that we’re going to be in South Australia.”

Vaccine rollout begins nationwide

States across the country began their vaccine rollout today, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison kicked off the nationwide rollout on Sunday.

The federal government say they are committed to offering COVID-19 vaccines to everyone in the country by October this year.

The first Victorian to roll up her sleeve and receive the Pfizer vaccine on this 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.

About 100 health care workers will be vaccinated at Monash Medical Centre on Monday, one of the state’s three active vaccine hubs.

Queensland is on track to give more than 170 people the coronavirus vaccine today, after Gold Coast nurse Zoe Park received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Gold Coast University Hospital this morning.

The COVID-19 ward nurse says it will give her much more confidence about keeping the virus away from the public and about going home to her family after shifts.

“It’s a very serious thing – I’ve seen families being torn apart from it,” Nurse Park told reporters.

“It’s really, it’s really sad what it has done to the patients affected and their families.

In NSW, more than 1200 people are expected to be vaccinated today, after health workers at three Sydney Hospitals lined up to receive their jab this morning.

The state is aiming to have 35,000 frontline workers vaccinated in the first three weeks.

“It does mean we can start thinking about overseas travel, we can start thinking about easing of restrictions,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters today.

“It definitely means there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it definitely means I’m hoping we’ve come through the worst part of the pandemic.”

-With AAP

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