Vaccine halt could delay remote NT rollout
The Northern Territory's COVID-19 vaccine rollout to remote communities has been derailed by health advice to stop administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 50 years old.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, AstraZeneca does not need to be stored at minus 70C, making for easier transport to areas outside Darwin and Alice Springs that do not have specialist medical refrigerators.
"It will certainly have an impact. We do have challenges other jurisdictions don't have," NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles told reporters on Friday.
"Ours is not a large population but it is a small population in a large geographical area."
The NT population is also very young, with about 75 per cent of people aged 49 years or under, according to Charles Darwin University.
Rolling the vaccine program out to them in hot and remote communities is likely to be much more difficult now AstraZeneca is no longer recommended for the under-50s.
"What we will do is go back and recalibrate all our vaccination plans," Ms Fyles said.
"Because we don't have community transmission we can calmly work through this."
The NT government had planned to roll out the vaccine to remote communities throughout April.
"We'll now work through a number of factors, not only the storage and the transportation but the doses of the vaccine," Ms Fyles said.
"It's an added complication we would have preferred not to have."
Ms Fyles did not say when the new rollout plan would be made public or how much Pfizer vaccine was in the Territory.