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Australia Temporary clinics and a campaign blitz form phase 1b of the NT's coronavirus vaccine rollout

08:37  05 march  2021
08:37  05 march  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Michael Gunner wearing a suit and tie: Michael Gunner says the vaccine rollout is on schedule in the NT. (ABC News: Michael Franchi) © Provided by ABC Health Michael Gunner says the vaccine rollout is on schedule in the NT. (ABC News: Michael Franchi)

One year and one day after its first case of coronavirus was diagnosed, the Northern Territory has released more details about the next phase of the ambitious vaccine rollout.

Phase 1b will immunise elderly adults, Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over, some adults with medical conditions and critical or high-risk workers not vaccinated in phase 1a.

And we now have a date for when it will begin in the NT — March 22.

Here's what else we learned.

Who will deliver the jab?

The second phase of the rollout will expand on phase 1a — which took place at a small number of vaccine hubs — to include 25 GP clinics and 13 Aboriginal community-controlled health centres across the NT.

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Speaking at a press conference today, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said 10 of those GP clinics would soon receive 1,600 doses of the vaccine and begin administering them from March 22.

"These clinics are based in Alice Springs, Darwin and the Darwin rural area," Mr Gunner said.

"There'll be a gradual increase and by week four of phase 1b, the NT will receive 6,190 doses per week."

What's this about temporary clinics?

Mr Gunner also revealed that there are currently no Commonwealth-eligible GP providers in three of the NT's major population centres: Tennant Creek, Katherine and Nhulunbuy.

Instead, he said the NT government would establish temporary vaccination clinics in those three areas "within weeks".

He said that would ensure the rollout stays on-track.

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What will happen in remote communities?

Vaccinating the NT's numerous remote Indigenous communities against coronavirus has repeatedly been flagged as one of the most challenging aspects of the rollout — especially given mobile populations and the cold storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine.

The NT government and Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Centres will share the mammoth job.

But Mr Gunner said it won't necessarily begin on March 22 — instead, he said teams will arrive in those communities on that date and stay there until the job is done.

"This will be extremely complex in some respects, but we also think the tightknit nature of many of these communities will work to our advantage and help us to achieve excellent take-up and outcomes," he said.

The majority of the remote Indigenous population — like the majority of the general NT population — will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored at between two and eight degrees.

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How will I know when it's time to get the jab?

The entire phase 1b effort will also be accompanied by a large advertising and education campaign, including some in Indigenous languages.

The NT government said that campaign would begin within a fortnight.

It will roll out to television, print and online and social media, and will also confirm how appointments for eligible people to get the vaccine can be made.

Wait a minute. What happened to the first phase?

Mr Gunner said phase 1a is continuing on schedule, with 2,200 Territorians vaccinated in the first two weeks.

He said that the NT had delivered 3.4 per cent of the vaccinations delivered nationally so far — despite having just 1 per cent of the nation's population.

"This is how we save lives and how we open up Australia to the rest of the world. This vaccine program is crucial," Mr Gunner said.

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