Cape York’s Indigenous communities are likely to be at the top of the priority list for the first batch of COVID-19 vaccinations in Australia.
In the federal government’s rollout strategy, Indigenous people aged over 55 are in the second most urgent category for coronavirus vaccinations.
They will be vaccinated after quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers, aged care and disability care staff and residents.
The Australian last week reported that when the vaccine reaches remote communities, it will be given to all Indigenous adults regardless of age.
This is in part because of the expense and logistical difficulties of delivering the vaccine to remote locations twice.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said it made sense to target vulnerable communities.
“We need to protect those communities in the Cape and Torres Strait and it should also help prevent another biosecurity bubble, which was devastating for the Cape economy,” he said.
“We’re lucky that Indigenous communities in the Cape have one of the best records in Australia when it comes to immunisation and I’m sure they will support the vaccine.”
The state government, which is in charge of the vaccine rollout in Queensland, has yet to announce its plans.
Asked last week about the timeframe it would take to vaccinate everyone in the state, Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said it was difficult to estimate.
“It will purely depend on getting the vaccine,” she said.
“We’ve got all that work done, so as soon as the Commonwealth gives us the vaccine we’ll start using it.
“There won’t be a delay there. But we know that the number of doses early on are quite low and then they’ll build up as more is produced.”
The federal government anticipates AstraZenecca’s vaccine could be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in early February, allowing for a rollout by early March.
This article appeared in Cape York Weekly, 25 January 2021.