Australia's first COVID-19 vaccine injections will take place next month revealed Scott Morrison this week, but life is unlikely to return to 'normal' on the border for some time - if ever.
Finley general practitioner Alam Yoosuff is confident GPs in the border and southern Riverina region are well equipped to deal with the upcoming vaccine roll out.
Dr Yoosuff holds board positions with both the Murrumbidgee Local Health District and Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network as well as being the director of public health for MLHD, but spoke to The Border Mail in his role as principal GP of Finley Medical Group.
He personally plans to get the vaccine as soon as possible, but said it was not a "magic bullet" that would mean social distancing could stop overnight.
"The virulence of a pathogen ie, SARS-CoV-2, is defined not purely by how nasty the bug is, it is defined by human behaviour," he said.
"The virus doesn't spread by itself, people actually spread the virus."
Dr Yoosuff said looking at countries that have managed to quell the virus outbreak - like Australia, Taiwan and Vietnam - shows public health responses and human behaviour greatly impacted infection rates.
"What it tells us is the bug could be virulent, highly spreading, but if human behaviours are managed well to suit that level of epidemic at that time we can manage it far better," he said.
The federal government confirmed on Thursday that GPs like Dr Yoosuff and Aboriginal Health Services would provide the vaccine during the initial roll out as well as hospital hubs.
While it is still new the vaccine will only be able to be administered with medical oversight, but later in the year it's expected pharmacies will also provide the injection.
When will we be vaccinated?
Dr Yoosuff said GPs would also have a vital role in vaccinating aged care residents and staff, who are among the government's first priority group.
Frontline health, quarantine and international border workers will be among the first groups to be vaccinated in mid to late February, Mr Morrison said on Thursday, presuming the vaccine is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The Prime Minister expects 80,000 doses will be delivered a week and four million Australians will be vaccinated by the end of March.
The government aims to have 80 per cent of Australians, 21 million residents, vaccinated by October.
Each resident will require two doses of vaccine, about 21 to 28 days apart.
Is there only one vaccine?
While the Pfizer vaccine will be the first in Australia, it's expected another two vaccines - by AstraZeneca and Novavax - will also be available shortly.
The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius so it's likely the AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines will be more widely delivered in regional or remote areas.
Dr Yoosuff said the latter two vaccinations could be stored in existing vaccination fridges in GP clinics across the region.
In recent months both Albury Wodonga Health and Murrumbidgee Local Health District have stated they were already planning for when a vaccine was rolled out.
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Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy said the nation-wide roll out would be "the most complex logistical exercise in our country's history".
Dr Yoosuff said never before had a mass vaccination program of this kind been attempted, so realistically some problems could be expected.
"Even for small pox which we eradicated, we didn't actually immunise everyone, everywhere," he said.
"They actually started ring vaccinating where the outbreaks were and widening it and widening it to a level that we developed herd immunity.
"This is a one of its kind scale, unprecedented, we haven't seen this happening before."
Should I be worried the vaccine has been developed so quickly?
Dr Yoosuff said although the development of the vaccines was swift, the technology was not new and results from the human trial were very positive.
"I, myself, have personally looked at some of the data that has come out from Pfizer and Moderna and it is very, very promising. I don't think we have had any safer vaccine," he said.
"I'm quite confident we have a few very good vaccines.
"The vaccines we see coming in the market, they have been shortcutted in the sense they've been fast-tracked but that doesn't mean anyone has cut corners. They haven't done anything less than other vaccines we have in the market."
Health Minister Greg Hunt revealed Mr Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese would receive an early dose to assure the community the vaccination was safe. However, he said not all Cabinet ministers would receive the vaccine as they didn't qualify on public health grounds and did not want to be 'queue jumpers'.
Will we still have to social distance?
While the vaccine has been proven to prevent people getting severe and moderate COVID-19 symptoms, it's not yet clear if vaccinated people can still transmit the disease to others so social distancing will still be necessary.
Dr Yoosuff said even those vaccinated could contract the disease, but would show few symptoms.
"The benchmark that the World Health Organisation and all the government gave the vaccine is to avoid severe disease," he said.
"If you get vaccinated we will reduce the [chance of] death to near zero... we will reduce the disease but we don't reduce transmission, that means we won't reduce sharing the bug with someone else or infecting someone else."
Experts believe once about 70 per cent of people are vaccinated there should be a herd immunity which would stop or slow the spread of the infection.
Dr Yoosuff is hopeful an "almost normal state of life" will return by 2022.
Mr Morrison said vaccination does not mean the end of COVID safe practices.
"It will still be a fight over the course of 2021, but [the vaccine] will add a very, very significant defence and offence," he said.