SOUTH-WEST health services are working on COVID-19 vaccination plans as the federal government says jabs could become available to "high priority groups" next month.
South West Healthcare CEO Craig Fraser said the health service was currently working with Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services and other health providers in the region to refine co-ordinated plans for vaccinations.
"We're currently determining the roles our trained staff will play in this very important development to protect our communities from further spread of this deadly infectious disease," Mr Fraser said.
"Along with other health services in the Barwon South West, we anticipate commencing a local immunisation program mid-next month.
"We're really looking forward to this positive step in the fight against COVID-19 and will be able to communicate more in the next few weeks."
Portland and District Health chief executive Chris Giles said the service would have four staff participating in a briefing next Monday run by Barwon Health in preparation for the vaccine.
Barwon Health public health unit deputy director Daniel O'Brien said health authorities were "in the early stages" of developing a vaccination plan for the Barwon south-west region".
"This is going to be a major operation and while there are still a lot of details to work through, we believe we are on track to commence immunisation once the vaccine is available, which is anticipated to be in mid-February," Associate Professor O'Brien said.
"Barwon Health is in the process of identifying healthcare workers with immunisation experience, as well as training up staff to increase our immunisation service, in anticipation of high demand for the COVID-19 vaccine this year."
Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration is yet to approve any COVID-19 vaccine.
The federal government in partnership with states and territories plans to initially rollout the Pfizer vaccine for "high priority groups" from "hubs" around the nation.
Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy has told reporters approval for the Pfizer vaccine could come this month, and the AstraZeneca vaccine next month.
"Assuming all those things go well, in mid-to-late February, we can start our phase-one rollout with likely to be the Pfizer vaccine for this priority population. Which will be quarantine and border workers, frontline health care workers, residential aged care and disability staff and residents," Professor Murphy said last week.
"Then when we get access to significantly more vaccine, as we release the batches of the hopefully registered and fully approved AstraZeneca vaccine ... we will expand the roll out to a significantly broader range of, again, at-risk population."
A spokeswoman for Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services said the department's priority was "to make sure that any vaccine which becomes available can be administered to Victorians as quickly and safely as possible".
"Further roll-out of other vaccines, particularly the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will depend on regulatory approval and volume and timing of further doses," she said.
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