South Australia’s Health Minister has urged the state’s public to ignore anti-vaccination “propaganda”, as local health authorities prepare to deliver the first round of coronavirus vaccines from Monday.

Key points:

  • South Australian frontline staff will begin receiving jabs from Monday
  • The SA Government is aiming to deliver 1,700 vaccinations in the first week
  • Authorities have also moved to reassure the public, after a rally by critics of the vaccine

South Australia’s first 4,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine touched down at Adelaide Airport this afternoon, destined for two vaccination “hubs” at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Flinders Medical Centre.

The SA Government has said it aimed to vaccinate more than 1,700 people over the coming week — all frontline workers at Adelaide Airport and in the medi-hotel system.

“This is the first delivery of 4,000 doses — we will be needing 12,000 to deliver our first three-week program. My understanding is these will be weekly shipments,” SA Health Minister Stephen Wade said.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius, and SA Health said dry ice would keep the doses at that temperature before they were escorted to “ultra-low temperature freezers” installed at the two hospitals earlier this week.

The first vaccine administered nationally occurred today in Sydney, where 84-year-old World War II survivor Jane Malysiak received the Pfizer shot.

Mr Wade said the arrival of the Pfizer vaccines marked an “exciting day” for the state — but he also lashed out at critics of the vaccine rollout, saying claims it would be mandatory were false.

“I really urge people not to listen to the anti-vaxxers. More than 200 million people have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 around the world,” he said.

“It’s an important part of putting this pandemic behind us.

South Australia’s first batch of coronavirus vaccines touched down at Adelaide Airport.(ABC News: Charlotte Batty)

On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered for a rally in Adelaide to express opposition to what organisers described as “enforced COVID-19 vaccinations”.

After a march through the city, a large crowd gathered on the steps of SA’s Parliament, holding placards with slogans including “my body, my choice”.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Cusack said he respected “everyone’s opinion and their view”, but he moved to reassure the public.

“Although these are the first doses in South Australia, 200 million doses now have been delivered across the globe and that number is increasing very quickly.

“Of that, we’ve seen very little in the way of adverse effects and serious allergy numbers are very, very low indeed.”

Protestors rallied on the steps of SA Parliament to express reservations about the rollout.(ABC News: Charlotte Batty)

Dr Cusack said the vaccine had also proven to be highly effective overseas, and said the detection of two new coronavirus cases in SA, in hotel quarantine, was a timely reminder of the importance of vaccination.

“We will continue to see cases coming in and that obviously is the risk in the state,” Dr Cusack said.

“That’s why it’s so important that those people involved in the quarantine program and in the medi-hotels are in fact vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.”

One of the cases is a child, and the other is a woman aged in her 30s.

Both recently returned from overseas and have been in hotel quarantine since arriving.

SA Health said the woman’s case was considered an old infection but had been added to the state’s tally, which stood at 610, because it had not been counted previously.