The WA Government has announced the appointment of State Emergency Coordinator, Chris Dawson, to the new role of COVID-19 Vaccine Commander to lead and drive the state’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
Commissioner Dawson will remain the State Emergency Coordinator and assume the responsibilities of the Vaccine Commander effective immediately for the initial term to December 31, 2021.
WA’s Vaccine Commander will be responsible for the State’s delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination program, providing whole-of-State oversight and leveraging cross-government capabilities to maximise the rollout through State and Commonwealth channels.
“As WA’s top cop, Commissioner Dawson has shone through this pandemic and it’s fitting he will lead WA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Program,” said WA Police Minister, Paul Papalia.
“During the pandemic our police officers have played a significant role in keeping the State safe, be it through day-to-day policing, effectively bolstering our borders or targeted special operations to catch criminals and syndicates bucking the law.
The Commander role also entails engaging with Commonwealth, State and non-Government sectors, leading communications and stakeholder engagement to ensure specific hesitant groups are supported to take up the vaccine.
Police Deputy Commissioner, Col Blanch, will take over duties of the Police Commissioner for the period.
To support the operational delivery of the vaccine program, the Chief Operating Officer of the Vaccine Program within the Department of Health, along with a small project team comprising relevant experts in data analysis, project management, logistics, communication and engagement will report directly to the Vaccine Commander.
The WA COVID-19 Vaccine Commander will report directly to the Premier and Health Minister and a Vaccination Strategic Coordination Group will be established to support the Commander with the Directors General of the Departments of Premier and the Cabinet and Health as well as the Chief Health Officer.
The Chief Health Officer has statutory, regulatory, public health direction and clinical oversight roles in relation to the vaccination program, and will continue to perform those responsibilities, in conjunction with the Vaccine Commander.
The appointment of a vaccination program lead in WA is in line with approaches taken by other jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth.
WA Health will continue to lead in other priorities including hotel quarantine, testing and contact tracing to keep delivering WA’s COVID-19 response effectively.