Defence personnel are supporting the Commonwealth Department of Health’s logistics team in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines nationally.

Twenty Defence personnel have been assigned to provide planning and logistics support to the department’s Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) in Canberra.

The ADF commitment provides a boost to staff of the Department of Health who are leading the distribution and administration of the vaccine rollout in remote, regional and metropolitan areas across the nation.

Nursing officer Wing Commander Susan Bagnall is the senior ADF officer at the VOC.

“The ADF is able to support the Department of Health with personnel who have expertise in running operations and logistics,” Wing Commander Bagnall said.

“This will assist with delivery of support into difficult to access places around Australia.

“We can also bring some different skillsets and fresh eyes to assist with what is a whole-of-government approach.”

One of the roles of the VOC is coordinating the rollout of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to aged-care and disability facilities.

The ADF vaccination delivery teams are part of that effort.

Up to 12 teams of five personnel each, including clinicians and support staff, are helping deliver and administer the vaccines.

“It is a massive logistics and coordination task and it’s quite a vulnerable population we’re working with at the moment,” Wing Commander Bagnall said.

“It’s not something you can just rush out; it’s something that’s got to be done quite strategically and the officials here are doing a fantastic job.”

The ADF element is also developing an induction package for the VOC.

“Sometimes it is helpful to have someone come in and capture lessons learned and processes,” Wing Commander Bagnall said.

“The induction package will be very helpful for the VOC when new people are recruited.”

The Defence support is initially expected to be in place for up to six weeks.

ADF members with Commonwealth Department of Health staff at the Vaccination Operations Centre in Canberra. Photo: Corporal Julia Whitwell