A coronavirus vaccine would be available free of charge under an immunisation policy agreed at National Cabinet.
While voluntary, a vaccine could become a condition of entry into Australia.
“It won’t be a mandatory vaccination, that is not the government’s policy and has never been the government’s policy,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“We would encourage people to take up the opportunity, but they will make their own choices.”
Priority will be given to vulnerable people, those caring for the vulnerable and people at risk of transmission including healthcare workers.
A University of Queensland vaccine candidate has shown effectiveness in elderly people and is due to enter phase three trails by Christmas.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said it meant the vaccine would be available, provided trails are successful, early in the third quarter of next year.
The government has made advanced purchase agreements for four candidate vaccines, amounting to 134 million doses, which the government said would “guarantee” 50 per cent of Australia’s population would be covered.