Mobilising Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine workforce

The Australian Government is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by securing an additional vaccine workforce and working to deliver essential training to everyone who will administer the vaccinations.

Australia’s vaccine roll out will be carried out through hospitals, General practices, state and Commonwealth vaccination clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and Pharmacies.

This additional vaccination workforce will help support and supplement these existing services and assist in outreach in areas such as aged care and remote and indigenous communities working with existing providers.

Through our plan, a panel of four providers have been appointed who will be called upon to provide a vaccine workforce to supplement the existing immunisation workforce for specific populations.

The providers are Aspen Medical, Healthcare Australia, International SOS, and Sonic Clinical Services.

These providers have established their capability and capacity to provide a skilled workforce, particularly for some of the most vulnerable groups throughout each state and territory.

The Australian Government has been closely monitoring the immunisation programs operating overseas, including in the United Kingdom and the United States, and one of the critical requirements has been the availability of a ready and capable immunisation workforce.

Our vaccination strategy requires the highest levels of operational readiness. As vaccines are approved for use in Australia and our vaccination program commences, we are ensuring the workforce is there to administer the vaccines in an efficient manner, particularly to our priority groups including residential aged care, residential disability, and carers.

This vaccine workforce will support the jurisdictions for their part in the vaccine rollout. We anticipate they will also partner with peak organisations and other providers to assist in administering the vaccine for harder-to-reach populations, such as remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Work is also under way to prepare the necessary and compulsory training which will be required for each and every healthcare professional administering COVID-19 vaccines.

The Australian College of Nursing is leading the preparation of the training materials which will cover the handling and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

The nature of the COVID-19 vaccines requires immunisers receive information on a range of issues, such as the use of multi-use vials and handling practices for the Pfizer vaccine which requires very low temperatures for storage.

Healthcare professionals and the vaccine workforce will not be able to administer any COVID-19 vaccines without having first completed the training modules.

Australia is in the incredibly fortunate position to be able to look and learn from the vaccine rollouts taking place around the world and to ensure our workforce is ready and trained to do a world class job delivering the vaccine to all Australians who chose to be vaccinated in 2021.

This is a position which we have all worked hard to achieve, by following the health advice and suppressing the spread of the virus in our community.

As reported by the Medical Journal of Australia, the Australian response to COVID-19 may have saved over 16 000 lives according to modelling that used the UK response as a template.

The World Health Organisation has identified Australia as one of the most well prepared health systems in the world, according to a 2018 evaluation report on Australian disaster preparedness.

Our next stage is to issue expressions of interest requests for General Practices and Pharmacists, with that expected to be issued this week as foreshadowed.

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