A senior doctor in regional South Australia has become the first Australian to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Caroline Phegan, a GP consultant and head of the Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network, received the jab at Murray Bridge Hospital on Friday morning.
Dr Phegan said she was immunocompromised, and would therefore be especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.
She said she was excited to receive the inoculation and honoured to be the first in the country.
“I feel very privileged and very honoured to be the first person in Australia to receive it, and I hope I reassure people that it is a safe vaccine.” Dr Phegan said.
“I am immunocompromised myself … it’s really important to have that health protection not only for myself, not only for my workers but also for the people who we serve, which is the public.”
Dozens of fellow medical staff will receive the jab this week.
‘Very important program for our nation’
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said it was a special day that the state should celebrate.
“We know that this is a very important program for our nation [and] we are super pleased in South Australia to be the first place in the nation,” Mr Marshall said on Friday.
“1000 doses were received yesterday and within 36 hours of this vaccine being received into South Australia, we’re already starting the rollout.
“We’re leading the way in terms of the vaccination rollout.”
AstraZeneca was the second COVID-19 vaccine to be given the green light in Australia, after the Pfizer vaccine.
Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved the AstraZeneca vaccine after a rigorous testing process last month.
The TGA said it had been shown to be safe and to prevent COVID-19 but it was not clear yet whether it prevented transmission of asymptomatic disease.
Most experts have backed its approval, despite some concerns over the strength of scientific data, as rollouts and new trials of the vaccine continue overseas.