First COVID vaccines arrive in Perth

Western Australia has taken delivery of its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine – ahead of the start of local vaccinations tomorrow.

The initial consignment contains more than 4,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine – the first COVID vaccine approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

WA Health’s Senior Medical Advisor Communicable Disease Control Dr Paul Effler said the vaccine’s arrival in WA today was significant.

“Today marks a real milestone in this COVID-19 roller coaster ride we have been on for more than a year now,” he said.

“We are so lucky, here in Western Australia, to have an opportunity to receive this vaccine ahead of the type of community outbreak we have seen devastate so many countries throughout the world.”

Four trays of vials were transported from Sydney in a large esky, surrounded by dry ice pellets to keep the vaccine at -80 degrees Celsius throughout its trip across the country.

The vaccine is now safely in Perth Children’s Hospital’s pharmacy freezer at -80 degrees Celsius.

“Moving this extremely valuable and fragile vaccine across Australia has been a logistical challenge – made even more complex by its exact storage and handling requirements,” Dr Effler said.

“Prior to being thawed for use, the vaccine must be kept out of the light and maintained at a temperature of between -60 and -90 degrees Celsius.”

Tomorrow is another landmark day as WA Health starts vaccinating the most at-risk frontline quarantine and healthcare workers at in-reach clinics in Perth.

Aged and disability care facility staff and residents will also be top of the list for early vaccination, with the Australian Government delivering vaccinations to this group.

Dr Effler urged all Western Australians to roll their sleeves up to be vaccinated when notified it was their turn.

“Real-world data – after tens of millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered –shows that what we saw in clinical trials to be correct and I am confident that this vaccine is both safe and highly effective at preventing COVID-19 illness.”

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