Older Australians are the most vulnerable to coronavirus death and would receive priority if or when a vaccine was made available.
That was the advice of Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy.
But they may be pushed to the back of the queue, as the vaccines have not yet been tested on older people.
“Most of the vaccines have not been trialled in the over-65s and it’s quite likely that the first registrations of some vaccines will exclude them being used in over-65s,” Dr Murphy told a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday.
“So, we then have to think about a second level priority.”
Higher up the priority list are health and aged care workers, as well as Indigenous Australians, and children, too, if a vaccine is deemed effective at preventing transmission.
“We don’t immunise children generally to protect them, it’s to develop that herd immunity,” he said.
Experts are still out on whether we’ll ever have an effective ‘vaccine’. However, they seem more confident that, while a vaccine may not prevent transmission, it should be able to prevent severe cases of the disease.
They are also looking into various strategies around any possible limitations of potential vaccines.
“This is a logistic challenge of the likes we’ve never seen before, so we are going to need a range of strategies,” said Dr Murphy.
“We haven’t landed all of those plans yet because they’re all very complex.”
On release of any vaccine, clinics would be set up at hospitals and GP clinics, and some coronavirus testing centres may be repurposed to administer injections.
“We’re planning to train up a whole army of additional nurses to be nurse immunisers,” said Dr Murphy.
Should the vaccine be deemed safe to administer to older people, special teams would be set up to vaccinate aged care staff and residents as a priority.
If not, aged care staff only may be immunised until vaccines are declared safe for older people.
It’s also likely we’ll all need two coronavirus jabs, authorities told the Senate.
Do you feel safer knowing vaccines will be ‘tested’ prior to you receiving jabs?
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