The federal government has brought forward the rollout of a vaccine for COVID-19 by a couple of weeks to early March.
The previous timetable was for late March.
“In the same way that [medical] advice has allowed us to bring forward the time from the first half of the year to late March, and now early March, we will be guided by the medical advice,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told The Daily Telegraph in an interview.
Mr Hunt also said the rollout would begin with the vaccination developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, with priority being given to front line workers in health care, hotel quarantine and border management.
Elderly people in aged care homes will also be amongst the first Australians to get the jab, pending its approval by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.
In the interview published on Wednesday, Mr Hunt also said up to 80,000 doses a week will arrive in Australia from later this month.
The second major vaccine candidate – developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University – is expected to be available for use in Australia by end-March.
Both vaccines are already being distributed in the UK.
The UK has been inoculating people with the Pfizer vaccine for the past four weeks and on Monday became the first country in the world to start deploying the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine is harder to manage than the AstraZeneca jab because it must be stored and transported at minus 70 degrees Celcius, while the latter can be kept in a refrigerator.