Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout began yesterday, with top officials among a small group receiving the first jabs a day before the vaccination program starts in earnest.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was injected with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at a medical center in Sydney’s northwest, in what the government said was an effort to boost public confidence in the vaccinations.
Jane Malysiak, an 84-year-old aged care resident and World War II survivor, was the country’s first person to receive the vaccine, followed by healthcare workers and other officials.
“She’s taking part in what is a very historic day for our country,” Morrison said.
“Tomorrow our vaccination program starts, so as a curtain-raiser today we’re here making some very important points — that it’s safe, that it’s important, and we need to start with those who are most vulnerable and are on the front line.”
It comes a day after anti-vaccination demonstrations in major cities attracted thousands, with police arresting several protesters in Melbourne, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported.
Almost 22 percent of Australians said they were unlikely to get the jab, with vaccine hesitancy rising in the past few months, an Australian National University survey found.
The country’s vaccination program is starting months after other nations, following its provisional approval of the Pfizer product for use in January.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was also approved in the past few days, but is yet to be administered.
Reporting a second consecutive day with no COVID-19 transmission in the community, the nation has had 28,926 infections and 909 deaths, ranking among the top 10 in a COVID-19 performance index.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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