Temporary clinics and a campaign blitz form phase 1b of the NT’s coronavirus vaccine rollout

One year and one day after its first case of coronavirus was diagnosed, the Northern Territory has released more details about the next phase of the ambitious vaccine rollout.

Phase 1b will immunise elderly adults, Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over, some adults with medical conditions and critical or high-risk workers not vaccinated in phase 1a.

The first shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will play a significant role in the next phase, is due to touch down in the NT next week.

And we now have a date for when phase 1b will begin in the NT — March 22.

Here’s what else we learned.

Who will deliver the jab?

The second phase of the rollout will expand on phase 1a — which took place at a small number of vaccine hubs — to include 25 GP clinics and 13 Aboriginal community-controlled health centres across the NT.

Speaking at a press conference today, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said 10 of those GP clinics would soon receive 1,600 doses of the vaccine and begin administering them from March 22.

“These clinics are based in Alice Springs, Darwin and the Darwin rural area,” Mr Gunner said.

“There’ll be a gradual increase and by week four of phase 1b, the NT will receive 6,190 doses per week.”

GP and Aboriginal health clinics will take part in the vaccine rollout within weeks.(

AP: Frank Augstein/Pool


What’s this about temporary clinics?

Mr Gunner also revealed that there are currently no Commonwealth-eligible GP providers in three of the NT’s major population centres: Tennant Creek, Katherine and Nhulunbuy.

Instead, he said the NT government would establish temporary vaccination clinics in those three areas “within weeks”.

He said that would ensure the rollout stays on-track.

What will happen in remote communities?

Vaccinating the NT’s numerous remote Indigenous communities against coronavirus has repeatedly been flagged as one of the most challenging aspects of the rollout — especially given mobile populations and the cold storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine.

The NT government and Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Centres will share the mammoth job.

But Mr Gunner said it won’t necessarily begin on March 22 — instead, he said teams will arrive in those communities on that date and stay there until the job is done.

“This will be extremely complex in some respects, but we also think the tightknit nature of many of these communities will work to our advantage and help us to achieve excellent take-up and outcomes,” he said.

The majority of the remote Indigenous population — like the majority of the general NT population — will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored at between two and eight degrees.

How will I know when it’s time to get the jab?

The entire phase 1b effort will also be accompanied by a large advertising and education campaign, including some in Indigenous languages.

The NT government said that campaign would begin within a fortnight.

It will roll out to television, print and online and social media, and will also confirm how appointments for eligible people to get the vaccine can be made.

Wait a minute. What happened to the first phase?

Mr Gunner said phase 1a is continuing on schedule, with 2,200 Territorians vaccinated in the first two weeks.

He said that the NT had delivered 3.4 per cent of the vaccinations delivered nationally so far — despite having just 1 per cent of the nation’s population.

“This is how we save lives and how we open up Australia to the rest of the world. This vaccine program is crucial,” Mr Gunner said.

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Queensland defends slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Defending the pace of the vaccinations, which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had warned would be “very slow”, Queensland Health said the rollout was “not a race”.

“Queensland is used to being picked on by others,” an official tweet from the Health Department read.

“We saw this many times last year, even though our response remains one of the best in the world. Our response is safe, measured and sensible.

“That’s what Queenslanders expect. Our vaccine rollout approach is no different. This is not a race.”

State health officials aimed to vaccinate 1000 people in week one and 3000 in week two, and Ms Palaszczuk said she was “very happy with the rollout, we are reaching our targets”.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said almost 60,000 more doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines would land in Queensland in the next 10 days.

Two coronavirus vaccines were approved for use in Australia: the Pfizer vaccine, which was being administered to priority groups, and the AstraZeneca vaccine, expected to be used for most of the population.

NSW would administer its first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 10 while Queensland had not named the date it would deliver the second vaccine.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said Queensland would get the vaccine out “as quickly as possible” but could not guarantee timelines as they depended on the supply secured by the Commonwealth.

“While we do receive some information from the Commonwealth about what to anticipate, we can not action the arrival of those vaccines until they are here, until we know that we are getting them.

“It’s incredibly important that we get this right and, as I say, the number that we do [vaccinate] in the first or second week isn’t what’s important, it’s how quickly we can get it out and how confident our community is in getting it.”

– with Mary Ward

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NSW unsure about aged care vaccine rollout

The New South Wales government has indicated it has no idea how many aged care residents are vaccinated against the coronavirus – or what facilities have been offered the jab.

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Cairns Hospital begins first rollout of COVID-19 vaccination in regional Queensland

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout has begun in Cairns, the first site in regional Queensland to deliver the jab.,Staff say they're excited about returning to a new sense of normality,Up to 100 frontline staff, including healthcare workers and hotel quarantine personnel, will today receive their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine at Cairns Hospital.,Executive director of medical services, Dr Don Mackie said at full capacity, the hospital would vaccinate more than 250 people per day.,”We've done a lot of planning, a lot of preparation, there's been some really intensive training, so we're ready really to get on with this,” Dr Mackie said.,”Given that we have the airport here, we have the border here, and we have the people working in hotel quarantine here, we're one of the priority areas for Queensland.,”We can run up to 256 people a day through this clinic, and this will be the core clinic for people in phase 1a [of the rollout].”,Among the first recipients of the vaccine was Dr Simon Smith, an infectious diseases specialist at Cairns Hospital.,”It's incredibly exciting,” Dr Smith said.,”It's amazing that within one year of the pandemic, we have not one but two vaccines coming to Far North Queensland that are both safe and effective.,”Personal protective equipment that we use on a daily basis does provide a lot of protection against COVID-19, but a vaccination is the next level.”,Clinical nurse consultant Tania Cahill has spent much of the pandemic assisting with international border screening at the Cairns Airport.,”We wear personal protective equipment, we are educated in how to wear that correctly and safely … so this is just another layer of protection, and I really welcome it,” Ms Cahill said.,”It gives me great confidence, and I encourage everybody [to get the vaccine] because the more people that get vaccinated, the quicker we'll return to normality, the new normality.”,Registered nurse Kristy King said all her colleagues in the fever clinic were hugely excited about taking the first step towards being vaccinated against COVID-19.,”We're frontline workers, we're at the [quarantine] hotels, so we're as close as you can get to those people who are COVID-positive,” Ms King said.,”COVID is new for everybody, it's fluid and ever-changing, so we have to move and implement new changes on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.,”But everyone's adapted and done a really, really good job … and that's reflected in the low case numbers and no community transmission from hotel quarantine which shows how good our processes are.”

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Restrictions ease across NSW; vaccine rollout ‘running smoothly’

“It is going like clockwork and the vast majority of people who need to get vaccinated … it is happening at a very good rate,” Ms Berejiklian told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

In the first four days of the rollout, NSW vaccinated more than 7500 people, she said.

New South Wales Police officer Lachlan Pritchard receives the Pfizer vaccine at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Vaccination Hub in Sydney.
New South Wales Police officer Lachlan Pritchard receives the Pfizer vaccine at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital vaccination hub in Sydney. (AP)

“If we want to have a COVID-normal existence, the vast majority of us are going to have to get vaccinated,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian will be getting the AstraZeneca vaccine “to show that it is as good as the Pfizer one”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre) visits the CSL vaccine manufacturing facility in Melbourne. Pharmaceutical company CSL is manufacturing Australia’s Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. (Getty)

“Most of us will be getting the AstraZeneca one,” she said.

“I don’t want people to lose confidence in the process because something went horribly wrong in Queensland.”

The state today recorded 40 days of zero community transmission with four cases diagnosed in hotel quarantine.

Gladys Berejiklian announces restrictions set to ease in NSW
Gladys Berejiklian says she is looking forward to getting the locally-made AstraZeneca vaccine. (Kate Geraghty/ AP)

The changes will allow for more people to be permitted inside households, while weddings will look a little more normal with dancing back on the schedule.

From midnight, the restrictions officially eased.

Up to 50 guests can now be welcomed into home and private gatherings.

A maximum of 30 people can take to the dancefloor at any one time at weddings.

Gym classes can now welcome 50 people, and patrons will also be able to stand up while having a drink at outdoor venues.

People having a drink on the roof top bar of the Glenmore in the Rocks. Patrons will soon be allowed to stand up and drink at venues. (Edwina Pickles / SMH)

And from next month, that rule is expected to be relaxed even further.

“From March 17 if everything goes well, in three weeks’ time, you will be able to stand up and have a drink indoors as well as outdoors,” Ms Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

But the easing of the rules has come with a strict warning from health authorities.

Ms Berejiklian said the situation was “very volatile”, warning the freedoms could be wound back at any time.

“We have to be as vigilant as ever,” she said.

“We have to make sure we do not become complacent, that we stick to the COVID restrictions and rules to make sure that all of us stay protected.”

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said venues must continue to use the QR code system, while no-one should be permitted into households if they were feeling unwell.

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“While we are putting an incredible protections at our borders, and rolling out vaccine to our border workers and quarantine workers is the highest priority, the risk of an event where we get that transmission is still ever present,” she said.

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Gold Coast GPs promise ‘stringent’ vaccine training for AstraZeneca rollout after wrong dose bungle

It follows revelations the doctor who administered the wrong dose of the Pfizer vaccine to two elderly Queenslanders on Tuesday had not completed the required online training.

The director of Medical on Miami, Heather McLellan-Johnson, says her clinic is hoping to begin the 1b stage of the rollout next month and it will have an allocated doctor to manage training.

“We have the medical director Dr Mark Spanner who will be overseeing that.”

Ms McLellan-Johnson said the medical clinic received permission on Wednesday to accept the vaccines.

“It’s a bit of a lengthy process,” she said.

“They’ve given us notice that within the next two weeks we will have all of our information — who can get the first lot, what the training is around giving the vaccine.

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Northern Territory COVID-19 vaccine rollout set back by aged care delays and missing doses

Aged care sector delays and supply chain “teething problems” have set back the first week of the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the Northern Territory.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles told ABC Radio Darwin this morning that an expected shipment of COVID-19 vaccines did not arrive yesterday, so the Northern Territory ran out of doses earlier than expected.

“We were expecting a small supply that didn’t come through so we’ve raised that with the Commonwealth government about that supply issue,” she said.

Ms Fyles said she did not know why the expected vaccine shipment had not arrived but that there had been several “teething problems” around Australia during the first week of vaccinations.

“The officials are looking into it but we are expecting 400 more doses today.

“We will continue vaccinations this evening and tomorrow.”

Health Minister Natasha Fyles says questions have been raised as to why the vaccines did not arrive.(ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)

Ms Fyles said 581 coronavirus vaccines had been delivered to Territorians as of close of business yesterday.

The NT Government initially projected that 800 NT Health staff would be vaccinated in the first week.

Delays have also been seen in the rollout of the vaccine in the aged care sector, a program managed by the federal government.

Northern Territory Professional Health Network chief executive Gill Yearsley said the delays were due to the “logistically challenging and complex” nature of the delivery plan.

“In the Northern Territory we have experienced some delays in the rollout this week which means some residents have not received their vaccines when initially planned,” he said.

“The delays are being managed and contingencies put in place to ensure residents do receive their vaccinations in the next few days.”

Despite the missing doses and supply chain issues, Ms Fyles said the vaccination program in the Territory was working well.

“To get over 500 people vaccinated in the first four days and to not be lagging behind the rest of Australia, our health professionals have done a great job,” she said.

Ms Fyles said the territory and federal governments were working on getting the appropriate freezers to the territory, which would allow the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to be stored locally and remedy some of the supply issues.

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Quarantine worker Erica Bleakley receives one of the first coronavirus vaccines in the NT.

“They are still some weeks away. I hope we’ll see them by the end of March or early April,” she said.

Ms Fyles said the NT government was hoping to have all Territorians vaccinated by the end of October.

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Vaccine rollout inspires Gladys Berejiklian to push national borders

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has vowed to ramp up pressure on national cabinet to formulate a logical and uniform approach to domestic border closures now the COVID-10 vaccine rollout has begun.

With Prime Minister Scott Morrison among the first Australians to receive the Pfizer jab on Sunday, Ms Berejiklian said there were no more excuses for rogue state premiers to slam borders shut at the first sign of an outbreak.

National cabinet is due to meet again this month.

“I’m going to continue, at national cabinet, to press the issue of internal borders within Australia now that the vaccine rollout has started and (because) we‘ve seen no community transmissions in NSW for a serious (37 consecutive) number of days,” she told reporters at Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast.

“Even when do have (a case) we have managed it well. We should not shut down borders just because there are a few cases we might be worried about. That is no way to run our nation, internally.”

Domestic borders have reopened following various closures during the past few weeks. South Australia had banned travellers from Victoria during the Holiday Inn outbreak.

Western Australia only allowed travellers from NSW back in the state on February 16 for the first time since the outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches in December.

Ms Berejiklian warned that if a national approach was not adopted, the economic effects would be crippling.

“I understand the international borders (being shut), but I don‘t understand the internal borders,” she said.

“We need to start thinking about the future because we run the risk of being left behind.

“We (Australians) have done incredibly well on the health side, but we also need to do well on keeping the economy going, keeping jobs going because the rest of the world is opening up.

“We do need to think about how we treat each other as states. ”

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Coronavirus scammers prepare to target Australians over vaccine rollout, experts warn

There are thousands of fraudsters preparing to exploit the COVID-19 vaccine program, experts say, warning the scams will look legitimate and the people behind them may even know your name, phone number and email.

Michael Connory, a cyber security consultant and CEO of the company Security in Depth, said there was a significant number of scam emails sent in the UK and US relating to vaccination programs.

“[They have] scammed numerous people, tens of thousands of people over in the UK, as well as in the US,” he said.

Fraud protection consultants said the rollout of vaccinations across Australia this week was giving fraudsters a prime opportunity to pose as health authorities.

“Bad actors will look for opportunities — be it tax time or be it the imminent distribution of vaccines.” Mr Levinsohn said.

Mr Connory said scams would be very hard to distinguish from genuine communication.

“It will look like a legitimate email coming from a government agency,” he said.

He said he expected the scams would convince people to click on a link to give personal information or install malicious software that steals information.

“Cyber-criminals then take that personal information, and use that for things such as identity theft, which is hugely prevalent in Australia.” Mr Connory said.

He said people should expect scammers to call or even text them.

“That text will say something like: ‘Hi Michael, here is your COVID information’ with a link,” he said.

“Now because you can’t really see the link in detail on the text, it’s much more likely that you will click on the link, and it will take you to a compromised website.”

The other way criminals had been scamming people, was by duping them into trying to “jump” the vaccination queue.

“They’re going to say, ‘if you want to get the Pfizer vaccine rather than the AstraZeneca vaccine, then pay $150 and you can jump the queue’,” Mr Connory said.

“The reality is that there’s no jumping the queue.”

Then there is what else scammers can steal from you, Mr Connory said.

“What they’re really looking for is your information, the more personal information they have on you, such as your Medicare details, your driver’s licence, your date of birth — they can then utilise that information and attack you from an identity theft perspective,” he said.

“These individuals will go out and get credit with your name, they will create companies, they will start to trade, they can get mobile phones with your details, they can do a whole range of different things with your personal information.

“Last year, the Australian Cybersecurity Centre and ID Care, which are both government organisations, had a look at 41,000 cases of these types of scams, and the average loss was $18,000 per person.

“We’ve seen from research that within Australia … on average 20 per cent of individuals will still click on a link.”

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Victoria marks third day of zero local coronavirus cases as vaccine rollout begins

Victoria has recorded its third day of zero local coronavirus cases, marking a triple “donut day” as the state begins its vaccine rollout.

Testing numbers dropped to 8277 results in the past 24 hours, with just 25 active cases remaining in the state.

Professor Rhonda Stewart has the vaccine in Melbourne.

Two hotel quarantine workers have tested negative to COVID-19 after initially returning “indeterminate” results.

The workers, based at the Pullman and Novotel hotels in Melbourne, received “indeterminate” results through saliva testing.
But a PCR nasal swab test later confirmed the workers had returned “truly negative” results.
“Out of an abundance of caution, intermediary measures were taken place around each of those places of work … until those PCR tests were then followed up,” Health Minister Martin Foley said.
The state’s third consecutive day of zero local cases gives hope the

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