MORE than 7,500 frontline health workers in Hunter New England will be the first to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine once the John Hunter vaccination hub is up and running from March 15.
District health staff deemed at greatest risk of exposure to the virus will be able to start booking in to have their COVID-19 vaccinations from next week.
This includes staff working in intensive care units, the emergency department, COVID wards and swabbing clinics.
"That's not just doctors and nurses, that's also our admin, our cleaners, our food services, and anybody who is likely to go into those areas frequently," Elizabeth Grist, the region's Health Services Functional Area Coordinator, said.
Residential aged care facilities and multipurpose centres run by Hunter New England Health would also be included in phase 1a of the local vaccination program, as well as port staff and paramedics.
"In a month we will have covered the district, but then we have to go into round two with the second doses.
"I'd say in two month's time we'll have most of those first workers fully vaccinated," Ms Grist said. "Then it starts to roll out to other essential workers."
It is anticipated that within the first two-to-three months of the local rollout, all 17,000 hospital and community health staff within the health district will have had an opportunity to receive the vaccine.
Then GPs and pharmacists would administer the vaccine to the general public.
"This is not a mandatory vaccination, so it's difficult to say how many vaccines will be sent to certain areas, because I don't yet know whether staff will want to take it up or not," Ms Grist said.
"At this point it is voluntary, which adds a layer of complexity... It is going to be a big task. But we are excited to have the opportunity to make sure all our staff are safe and protected."
Ms Grist said it made sense to have a vaccination hub at John Hunter Hospital.
"We had the most COVID patients when it did occur, and anyone that's really sick will be transferred to the John Hunter," she said.
"But not only do we have the capacity, we have the minus 70 degree freezer on site for the Pfizer vaccine - we have always had that - so we've had the ability to store that vaccine and that has been an important issue in determining where the hub went."
On Monday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said about 50 people an hour were receiving the vaccine.
"I'm pleased that after the first week, NSW has already successfully administered 10,339 vaccines. That means 10,339 people have received the first dose of that extra layer of defense against the pandemic," Ms Berejiklian said.