An aged care resident who survived World War II has become the first person in Australia to receive a COVID vaccine, shortly followed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as the nation’s vaccination program finally begins.
The PM visited a medical centre at Castle Hill, in Sydney’s north-west, to join a group of aged care residents, medical staff and border workers in being vaccinated. The first stage of vaccine distribution was due to start widely on Monday, with the symbolic first group on Sunday comprised of members from all cohorts included in Phase 1a of the rollout plan.
“V FOR VACCINE!”
— Tegan George (@tegangeorge) February 21, 2021
Jane Malysiak was the first person in Australia to get a vaccine. Mr Morrison sat alongside her, as she rolled up her sleeve and received the Pfizer injection.
Mr Morrison joined chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, and chief nursing and midwifery officer, Alison McMillan, were also among the first group to get the jabs on Sunday.
The government trio would normally not have been included in this early stage under the rollout plan, and likely would have been in Phase 2a under regular circumstances. However, Health minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday it was important for the public figures to receive jabs in the first group “in order to provide confidence”.
“There was a very strong focus on the need for key leaders, not the Parliament, not the Cabinet, not even the leadership group, but a cross-party group, to provide that confidence,” Mr Hunt told the ABC’s Insiders program.
“That has been a view in many places around the world.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and American President Joe Biden were among the first people vaccinated in their countries.
Mr Hunt said he and health department secretary Brendan Murphy would receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in the near future. He also added that Labor leader Anthony Albanese, Greens leader Adam Bandt, and a “very small” number of others had been invited to receive a vaccine in the early stages.
The New Daily understands Labor and the Greens have received the invitations and are planning when and where they will have their injections – potentially as early as this week.
“This is a cross-parliamentary view where parliamentarians don’t have any special status,” Mr Hunt said.
“The Cabinet or shadow cabinet doesn’t, nor even does the leadership. It is about the confidence and indeed the research shows that people want to see that if we believe it’s safe, then that will give them greater confidence.”
Government sources have told The New Daily that vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaxxer sentiment is a real concern in the rollout. A health department poll, released last week, showed 27 per cent of Australians were “unsure” about getting a vaccine, while another nine per cent said they “definitely” wouldn’t get one.
Less than half of Australians said they planned to get a vaccine as soon as possible.
More to come.