Australia’s newest COVID-19 vaccine will be made more widely available to the population within the fortnight.

The head of Australia’s vaccine rollout, Lieutenant-General John Frewen, told a Senate estimates hearing while the rollout of the Novavax vaccine started this week, it would become more accessible in the next two weeks.

Lieutenant-General Frewen said orders for the vaccine had been received for more than 2000 distribution sites.

“At the moment, Novavax is only approved as a primary course of vaccine, but Novavax are commencing the process for approval for a booster,” he said on Wednesday.

“We have started administering Novavax at sites across the country.”

Novavax is the first protein-based vaccine to be approved for use against COVID-19 in Australia.

While Australia’s vaccination rate is over 94 per cent, health officials have expressed optimism Novavax could help boost the rate further, particularly among those who had been holding out specifically for the protein-based vaccination.

Novavax won’t be used for vaccines as part of the aged care rollout, but health officials said it could be used for aged care residents if they specifically request it.

Lieutenant-General Frewen also told estimates the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous vaccination rate had reduced by 12 per cent.

Currently, 82.7 per cent of Indigenous Australians have received their first dose and 77.4 per cent are fully vaccinated,

Nearly 60 per cent of all of the eligible population in Australia had received their booster shot, while 80 per cent of people over 70-years-old have had their third dose.

More than one million children aged between five had 11-years-old have had their first vaccination, or 48.1 per cent.

“It’s faster than the vaccination rate for the same group in the US, Germany and Israel,” Lieutenant-General Frewen said.

However, that’s compared to a vaccination rate of 28.8 per cent of Indigenous five to 11-year-olds who have received their first dose.

There were a further 57 COVID-19-related deaths reported on Wednesday, with 27 from NSW, 18 in Victoria and 12 in Queensland.

Nationally, there were more than 26,000 cases of the virus in the latest reporting period.


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)