IT was a class reunion in the Warrnambool COVID-19 vaccination centre when South West Coast MP Roma Britnell received the jab from a former nursing colleague.
Maree Sim administered the AstraZeneca vaccine to Ms Britnell, who was one of hundreds to take up the chance to be inoculated this week following the expansion of the rollout.
The pair trained as nurses together in Warrnambool in 1985.
Ms Britnell encouraged locals over 50 to follow her lead and get the vaccine.
"Being over 50 now I'm now eligible for a COVID vaccine so I went to the centre and was incredibly impressed with the process, which was simple and streamlined," she said on Friday.
"They interviewed me to ensure I had no condition or reason not to have the vaccine, and I was taken into the cubicle where one of the girls I trained with in my nursing days gave me my injection.
"It was lovely to have a fellow nurse I know administer it and she did an excellent job, I didn't feel a thing.
"It wasn't painful in any way shape or form. I was observed and after 15 minutes I was allowed to go. I'm very impressed with how South West Healthcare has set it up."
Ms Britnell urged people not to be concerned about the rare blood clotting events linked with the AstraZeneca vaccine and trust the experts.
"Clotting happens, people have random clots and traveling on a plane carries higher clotting risks," she said. "As well as being on the contraceptive pill, lots of people had clots on the pill, it was not that uncommon.
"This is 18 people out of 1.8 million who had clots after being vaccinated, it's not something to be concerned about.
"It's unfortunate that this narrative is getting momentum because we need people to have confidence in our health system, which in Australia is pretty impressive.
"I think it's important I show and demonstrate that confidence I have in the system and the TGA system."
I think it's important to talk about my experience and if I have complications I'm happy to talk about that too.Roma Britnell
Ms Britnell said wide uptake of the COVID vaccine was crucial to moving to a post-COVID normal.
"The last lockdown in February really rocked our communities, particularly our small businesses who are nervous about the future.
"People are not keen to go anywhere because they don't want to be locked out of the state and unable to see family.
"People are feeling that way and until we can get that confidence small businesses will continue struggling.
"The vaccination provides us with the confidence to open up again."
Government eyes more Australian-made jabs
Australia is taking steps to produce more vaccines onshore as the federal government confirms another 25 million COVID-19 jabs have been locked in.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said an approach to market would be launched within the next 10 days for companies to put their hand up to locally produce mRNA vaccines.
He expects at least one to be made in Australia by next year.
"I won't make a guarantee on that, but I am confident that over the future period we will have mRNA production in Australia," Mr Hunt said on Thursday.
Health Department boss Brendan Murphy said the vaccine production could be broader than COVID-19, possibly extending to flu jabs.
Mr Hunt also confirmed 25 million doses of the Moderna vaccine from the United States have been secured.
The first 10 million are due to arrive this year while the rest are slated to be delivered next year.
The minister said the two-dose Moderna jabs were central to the government's plan to deal with coronavirus variants.
"Moderna is, on the advice that we have, the most advanced of the vaccine products with relation to the capacity to adapt to booster or variant requirements," Mr Hunt said.
"We don't know everything that is going to occur in this pandemic, but our goal has been to prepare for everything that is possible."
The Moderna jab has not yet been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration but the company is expected to apply for that soon.
People under 50 are set to receive the Moderna vaccine.
The Morrison government has again been urged to provide clarity on when it predicts the vaccine rollout will be completed, after senior ministers provided different views.
Mr Hunt said the budget's assumption was based on vaccines being available this year.
"That means we want Australians to be able to have that access to a vaccine shot over the course of the year."
The government continues to face pressure from the business community and doctors to lay out a plan for Australia's reopening, as cases dwindle and the vaccine is rolled out.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters earlier this week all Australians who wanted to be vaccinated should have received their second dose by the end of the year, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has walked that back.
Mr Morrison said the Treasury's budget assumptions were exactly that - assumptions and not a policy setting.
Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers said clarity was vital.
"We cannot have a first-rate economic recovery with a third-rate vaccine rollout - we need clarity from the government about how they are going to do it."
Australian Associated Press
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