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Eyecare professionals second in line for national vaccine rollout

Australian optometrists and ophthalmologists will receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the second wave of a five-phase national rollout strategy, according to the latest information from the Federal Government.

The groups are categorised as Phase 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b and 3 in order of priority.

Phase 1a is made up of 678,000 people, including quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers, and aged care and disability staff and residents. All are expected to get their first jab by late February.

Phase 1b is expected to cover 6.1 million people including anyone over 70 years old, and up to 953,000 other healthcare workers – including optometrists and ophthalmologists. Younger adults with an underlying condition and high-risk workers like emergency services personnel and meat processing workers are included in this group. It also includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are over 55.

The Federal Government hasn’t provided estimated timeframes for when this group will be offered a vaccine but the ABC predicts it is likely to be sometime between late March and early April 2021.

Phase 2a covers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are between 18-54, along with Australians over 50 years old and other critical high-risk workers.

Phase 2b is the rest of the adult population, plus anyone from the previous phases that have missed out.

Phase 3, the final phase, will be for children but only “if recommended” given the evidence that they don’t transmit the disease like adults.

The vaccine is administered in two doses approximately a month apart.

Chief Medical Officer Mr Paul Kelly has previously said most Australians will get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, although it still hasn’t received final approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Those people in the highest priority groups are more likely to receive the Pfizer vaccine, which has already been provisionally approved for people over the age of 16.

Vaccine doses will be available through 30 to 50 hospital sites across Australia, in metropolitan and regional areas (pending advice from states and territories) plus in residential aged care and disability care facilities.

The ABC has designed a short survey to help determine which vaccine group an individual belongs in.

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