South Australia’s Health Minister says authorities are aiming for a 100 per cent uptake of the coronavirus vaccine in the state, adding that it would be a “real tragedy” for there to be significant non-compliance.

Key points:

  • The first South Australians will receive the COVID–19 vaccine in February
  • The State Government is aiming for 100 per cent uptake
  • The Premier says he is not sure how long it will be effective for

Stephen Wade has provided more detail about how the vaccine will be distributed in South Australia, after SA Health yesterday announced jabs would begin in mid-February.

Mr Wade said while the rollout was being managed nationally, there are state-specific factors that will influence who will be inoculated first.

“It’s well-established process that the Commonwealth takes responsibility on behalf of the nation to procure vaccines, and then manages the distribution amongst the states and territories, as well as the pro rata element — the fact that some states are bigger than others,” he said.

“The vaccines will also be targeted at states where there are outbreaks, and we don’t know which states and territories will be in that situation in the months ahead.”

Health Minister Stephen Wade says South Australia generally has good vaccination rates.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

The first South Australians to receive a jab will be those more vulnerable to coronavirus — including residents and staff of aged care facilities — and frontline healthcare workers, as well as as medi-hotel and airport staff.

They will receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Mr Wade said the next cohort included South Australian adults with underlying medical conditions, people with a disability and people aged over 70, followed by those over 60.

The rest of the population will receive a mix of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novax vaccines from mid-2021, with the full rollout expected by the end of the year, Mr Wade said.

People will not be able to choose which brand of vaccine they get.

Mr Wade said while the state had an “aspirational” target of 95 per cent for other vaccines, he hoped uptake of a coronavirus vaccine would be even higher.

“I’ve got no reason to believe we’re not going to do our normal approach, which is to go for 100 per cent,” Mr Wade told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning.

“We know there is some hesitancy about a new vaccine but I would urge people to appreciate that the mammoth effort that’s been made right around the world to not only develop these vaccines but make sure they’re safe.

‘Not like flicking a switch’

The Australian Immunisation Register shows just under 95 per cent of South Australian children are fully vaccinated by five years old.

Some council areas reach 100 per cent coverage, while the lowest coverage is in Elliston, at 82 per cent.

A 92-year-old nursing home resident gets a coronavirus vaccine in Germany.(AP: Martin Meissner)

“This is not like flicking a switch — we’re not going to start getting vaccines … and [then] have no more outbreaks and no more transmission. It will take some time for the vaccine program to roll out,” Mr Wade said.

“The State Government will be taking responsibility in the first wave for the quarantine facilities and the healthcare staff and the Commonwealth will be taking responsibility for the staff and residents of aged care and disability facilities.”

Yesterday, Premier Steven Marshall said state and federal health ministers would meet this week before a final plan for the vaccine rollout went to National Cabinet in the first week of February.


He said he was not sure how long the vaccine would be effective.

“This is a new vaccine so we’re not sure at this point whether or not there will need to be multiple vaccinations — annual vaccinations — like we have with the flu shot,” he said.

“That hasn’t been confirmed yet.”

He said the fact that vaccines were already being rolled out in the US and Europe would enable Australian authorities to learn from any “mistakes or any of the lessons” there.

The State Opposition has been critical of the Government’s preparedness for vaccine delivery.

An SA Health tender for a computerised vaccination management system was uploaded on the weekend and closed yesterday.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said the State Government had waited too long to get started on the IT system.

“We know that it’s only due in a few weeks’ time, but it’s only now that the Marshall Government has decided to issue a tender for an IT system that is absolutely essential for getting this vaccine out into the community,” he said.