It’s V-day: First step to getting our lives back
Queenslanders are on a path out of drastic lockdowns and border closures while beginning the return to normalcy as our first frontline workers pull up their sleeves today for the historic COVID-19 jab.
More than 1000 hotel and health workers will be inoculated this week following Australia's first vaccination yesterday, overseen by a beaming Prime Minister Scott Morrison who promised every day from here on in "gets more normal".
In a curtain raiser for today's full roll out, Mr Morrison sat next to 84-year-old Jane Malysiak as she received her jab in a Sydney clinic before he received his in a move meant to reassure the nation.
"Today is the beginning of a big game-changer, no doubt about that, and a successful rollout will only further reduce the risk," he said.
"And when you reduce the risk then, obviously, you do not need more blunt and extreme measures in order to deal with COVID."
Two planes full of 10,000 precious vials touched down yesterday - one in Brisbane and one in Cairns - as vaccine hubs whirr into gear this week, with the first inoculation happening at 8.30am today on the Gold Coast.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said vaccinating all Queensland adults - hopefully by the end of October - would "massively change" the state's response to any future outbreaks, allowing authorities to rely on more traditional measures.
"Vaccine is how you would normally manage outbreaks," she said.
"You don't see us close down the state because we've got a case of measles."
"It won't change anything tomorrow morning but of course as we've got more people vaccinated it will change how we manage things."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also raised hope for those left floundering after Queensland's snap border closures, saying smooth interstate travel now depended "on the rollout, the supply and getting people vaccinated"
"I don't have a crystal ball. Let's get people vaccinated," she said, when asked when domestic travel may return to pre-COVID times.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the successful first vaccinations of 20 people in Sydney including the Prime Minister, aged care residents and workers and quarantine workers would build "confidence and hope and protection above all else".
"And yes, that will lead to shops and schools being progressively more and more open and other activities around the country," he said.
He also said that it would eventually lead to more "engagement with the outside world but with more than 400,000 cases a day globally that would happen on a "more staggered" timetable.
Dr Young said vaccinating people like Border Force and quarantine hotel workers to begin with would prevent the likelihood of the virus escaping hotels into the community to begin with.
"This is indeed an extremely exciting day, this is fantastic," she said.
"This is what I've been hoping for right from day one of this pandemic and what a response we've had from the world's scientists to have developed a vaccine that is so safe and so effective so quickly so I certainly will be putting my arm out for the first vaccine that I'm offered."
Ms Palaszczuk said 125,000 Queenslanders in category 1A were expected to receive the vaccine in coming weeks from the hubs.
Gold Coast University, Princess Alexandra and Cairns hospitals will administer jabs this week ahead of the Royal Brisbane and Women's, Sunshine Coast University and Townsville hospitals coming online.
"It'll be a progressive rollout and we'll be keeping you updated every single step of the way," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"You'll be told when it's your turn," she said, urging people not to turn up to GPs expecting the jab today.
"We really need all Queenslanders to do this when it's their turn."
A day after anti-vax protests, Ms Palaszczuk said her government had not considered any measures that would require people to be vaccinated before they could enter places like pubs and clubs - an idea that had been earlier floated in NSW.
Dr Young dodged questions around what proportion of the population would need to be inoculated to achieve herd immunity, instead saying it was her preference for "100 per cent" of adults to get the jab.
"I hope that every single person takes up that offer," she said, noting that worldwide cases had been significantly declining since vaccinations began.
"It is so important because we're not quite sure yet what having the vaccine means in terms of being able to spread the virus to someone else so the answer to that is just everyone get vaccinated because then you protect yourself.
"It's clear this vaccine will stop you getting severe disease and dying."
Gold Coast University Hospital clinical nurse Kirsten Hallam said she felt "incredibly honoured" to be among the firsts Australians given the opportunity to receive the vaccine.
"It's very humbling to know that I cannot only protect myself and family but also those more vulnerable members of our community," she said.
"It's very exciting especially to receive the text and to submit the paperwork, it makes it feel very real."
Originally published as It's V-day: First step to getting our lives back