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'I am relieved': Government announces all visa holders will get COVID-19 vaccine free of cost

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen during a tour of the University of Queensland Vaccine Lab in Brisbane, Monday, October 12, 2020. Source: AAP Image/Darren England

Australia is to provide the COVID-19 vaccine free of cost to all visa holders in the country.

Highlights:

  • All visa holders in Australia will receive vaccination free of cost.
  • The vaccination program will include refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa holders, and those on bridging visas.

Vijay Surya, an international student in Sydney, was concerned how would he receive the COVID-19 vaccine as he cannot travel to India.

"I was not sure because I am not a resident of Australia. I had no clarity if I would receive the vaccine here in Australia or not. And if I do, whether I will be charged for it as I do not have Medicare support," said the student who has been in Australia for over two years.

The Federal Government has clarified that all visa holders will receive vaccination free of cost.

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that the Government would provide COVID-19 vaccinations free to all visa holders in Australia.

"We need to make sure that everybody who's on Australian soil is safe, and everybody who's on Australian soil has access to protection," he said.

"So, on the advice of the medical experts, the Government has determined that we will offer vaccines to all people living in Australia to achieve the maximum level of coverage.

"That means the Government will provide COVID-19 vaccinations free to all visa holders in Australia."

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt arrives during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, February 3, 2021. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt arrives during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, February 3, 2021.
AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Mr Hunt emphasized that the vaccination program will include refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa holders, and those on bridging visas.

"People currently residing in detention facilities will also be eligible, including those whose visas have been cancelled. So, that's making sure that there is the maximum possible coverage in Australia," said Mr Hunt.

Many temporary visa holders are relieved after the announcement.

"I am relieved. Indeed I am relieved. Although I am not a resident of this country, yet I am a part of the society and expect Australia to take care of our health too," said Vijay Surya.

Melbourne-based migration agent Chaman Preet says it's a 'fantastic initiative' by the Government.

"The coverage for the rollout is very broad. We are very glad to see that most of the visa categories are being covered demonstrating the duty of care by the Australian Government," said Ms Preet.

The Australian Government aims to have the most people vaccinated by the end of this year.

According to the COVID-19 vaccination policy, the identified priority groups will get the first available doses proven to be safe and effective. More people will have access to a vaccine as more doses become available throughout 2021.

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