Unrestricted travel to selected countries may be a reality within a matter of months say experts following the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out in Victoria on Monday.
Travel industry experts told The Age that COVID-19 vaccinations could become mandatory for international travel as the vaccines are rolled out to the wider community.
One of the places where the vaccine was administered on Monday was to workers and flight crews at an unused departure lounge at the international terminus of Melbourne Airport which was converted into a clinic.
Hundreds of flight crew members, customs workers, and airport workers are to receive the vaccine each day from the clinic. Hotel quarantine workers also received vaccinations on Monday.
The first vials of the Pfizer vaccine were delivered from an ultra-cold freezer to the new vaccination hub run by Western Health at Melbourne Airport on Monday.
Six pharmacists worked during the day to dilute the vaccine and draw up to six doses from every vial while also constantly monitoring the temperatures of fridge containing the vaccine.
READ MORE: More vaccine arrives as Victoria records no new cases of coronavirus
Adrian Esterman of the University of South Australia told The Age that he expected that “vaccine passports” would be rolled out by the end of the year.
“If you’ve got a vaccine passport and you’re coming from a low-risk country, then you’ll probably be deemed absolutely safe and there’ll be no restriction whatsoever,” Professor Esterman said.
“But if you’re coming from a high-risk country, which has got these new [COVID-19] variants … even though you’ve been vaccinated, there might be some need to isolate for a few days.”
From April, Air New Zealand is expected to ask passengers travelling to Australia to use a digital health pass as part of a trial vaccine passport system that could be adopted for international travel while COVID-19 remains a problem.
Victoria is expected to receive 11,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine each week which are to be administered to the vulnerable and people working in high-risk locations such as aged care residents and frontline health workers.
READ MORE: State-by-state guide to the Pfizer jab