Four million Australians including the elderly and health care workers are expected to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by the end of March, as a super-infectious strain from the UK threatens the globe.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who will meet with state and territory leaders on Friday, announced on Thursday officials had advised him approvals for the Pfizer vaccine would be completed within weeks.
The government had earlier this week signalled early March as the start date,.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration approval process regarding another vaccine, by AstraZeneca, is due to be completed in February.
Mr Morrison said he was aware of public concern the vaccines were already being rolled out overseas, but it was important all proper checks were done to ensure their safety.
“Australia has been making its own way through this and tailoring our response to our conditions and our challenges and our needs,” he told reporters in Canberra.
The Pfizer vaccine – which requires two doses a month apart – will initially be made available through up to 50 specially-equipped “hubs” as it needs to be stored at minus-70 degrees Celcius.
Once the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved, it will be made available through around 1000 sites including GP clinics and pharmacies.
The first people to be vaccinated will be quarantine and border workers, frontline health officials, aged care and disability workers and aged care residents.
Mr Morrison said it was hoped to achieve around 80,000 vaccinations a week and see that build up over a period of four to six weeks, with four million people vaccinated by the end of March.
Children will be last on the list as they are at the lowest risk of getting the virus and transmitting it.