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Older Australians and people with chronic illnesses will receive COVID-19 vaccine first

People who are ill and edlderly will receive coron
Photo: Elderly and ill at front of vaccine queue
Australians at highest risk of coronavirus will be the first to receive vaccinations next year, while children will be last in line to receive their jabs.

Older Australians and people with chronic illnesses will be among the first to receive coronavirus vaccinations next year.

Frontline health and aged care workers will also be at the front of the queue.

Australian Defence Force members, police officers and international airline workers could also be given priority during the national rollout.

But other young adults will have to wait and children will be last in line.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says the aim for 2021 is to get everyone in Australia who wants a jab vaccinated.

"There will be a queue," Professor Kelly told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
He explained the rollout would be unusual compared to previous national immunisation strategies.

"We usually start with having enough to roll vaccination out to anyone who needs it," Professor Kelly said.

"This is a bit unusual because of the nature of how this has developed. We will have a supply by March and will start the process then.

"After that, we will get more supply and be able to roll out more broadly."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is aiming to start the vaccination rollout by March.

But he says the national strategy, including which cohorts will get the jab first, is yet to be finalised.

Mr Morrison said health workers and others in "critical occupations" would be at the front of the queue, as seen in England and the United States.

"But the details of that plan are still being worked out," he said.

Mr Morrison also sought to assure Australians stranded overseas this Christmas that he is determined to bring them home.

There are now more than 30,000 Australians seeking to return from overseas.

The worsening coronavirus situation in the United Kingdom and changing work conditions has driven a spike in repatriation requests.

Almost 10,000 people are looking to come to Australia from India and another 4500 from the UK.

The prime minister sent a message to Australians overseas during an interview on the Seven Network.

"We are looking to get you home as soon as we possible and that is what the record shows. We know you want to come home and you have every right to come home," Mr Morrison said.

"You are Australian and you are my first priority in terms of people coming back into the country."

The prime minister hosed down questions about allowing international visitors back into Australia next year, playing down the prospect of widespread international travel resuming before July.

"We are not lifting international borders at present and we have no immediate plans to do that," he said.

An exception has been made for New Zealand, with almost 10,000 Kiwis allowed into the country since a one-way travel link was restored.

Seasonal workers from the Pacific islands are also being brought into Australia with on-farm quarantine arrangements in place.

"We're taking this very cautiously. The reason we've done so well is we've been so careful around our borders," Mr Morrison said.

"I hope that we can see international travel resume well into next year but I'm not expecting it, really, certainly not in the first quarter of next year.

"In the quarter after that, a lot would have to change to see that happening at any sort of industrial scale."

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