Quarantine nurses get first WA vaccine jab

Hotel quarantine nurse Keita Winks received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Hyatt in Perth.
Hotel quarantine nurse Keita Winks received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Hyatt in Perth.

Two nurses have become the first West Australians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, saying they hope it will save lives and ease the strain on the healthcare system.

Hotel quarantine nurses Antonio Garza and Keita Winks each received the Pfizer jab at the Hyatt in Perth on Monday, marking the start of WA's rollout.

Describing it as quick and painless, they urged West Australians to jump on board with getting vaccinated.

"We just had to go through all the paperwork, get checked off ... rolled up the sleeve, got the shot," Ms Garza told reporters.

"No different than any other vaccine.

"Vaccines save lives, reduces the burden on our healthcare system and our doctors and nurses. Us getting this done protects the vulnerable as well. There's so many positives to having it."

Quarantine and international border workers and high-risk frontline healthcare staff in aged and disability care are first in line to get the jab in WA.

About 570 hotel quarantine workers have booked in across Monday and Tuesday with the number expected to grow to 1000 by the end of the week.

"I understand that people are afraid and are hesitant and there's a lot of misinformation about it that's making people afraid. But I'm all for it," Ms Winks said.

Unlike other states, the initial jabs were carried out behind closed doors at the Hyatt and footage was later distributed to media outlets.

Premier Mark McGowan criticised the move, saying he had argued "quite strenuously" against the WA Health edict but had been powerless to overturn it because the government is in caretaker mode ahead of the election.

"I thought it would have been a great opportunity for the people getting injections to explain why they were doing it and for it to be a very prominent and good public message," he told reporters.

The premier said he looked forward to the vaccine rollout being completed across the state by the end of the year.

"When it's your turn to get the vaccine, please get the vaccine," he said.

"It's in your own interests, it's in the community's interest, it's especially in the interests of older West Australians so it's a great thing to do."

Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said WA Health had opted to carry out the vaccinations at the hotel rather than hospitals to minimise disruption for recipients.

WA Health communicable disease expert Paul Effler said the rollout would allow Australia to switch from defence to offence against the virus.

He said about 160 million people had already been inoculated in the United States and about 17 million in the United Kingdom.

"Both those countries have really good safety monitoring systems and we haven't seen an untoward safety signal," Dr Effler said.

"That's an enormous safety database so I think we can all feel reassured about that. Everything we're learning from an international perspective is positive."

Australian Associated Press