© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits Tokyo
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was injected with the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 and BioNTech, when the nation launched its vaccination program a day ahead of schedule.
Up to 4 million Australians are expected to voluntarily receive a COVID-19 vaccine by March. Morrison and Paul Kelly, the country’s chief medical officer, are among a small group of Australians receiving their first vaccinations.
“We’re making some very important points here,” said Morrison just before cameras captured the first person to be injected at a medical center in Sydney. “That it is certain that it is important and that we have to start with those who are most vulnerable and who are on the front lines.”
The doses of Pfizer vaccines, which must be kept at temperatures well below freezing, were still being distributed to 16 vaccine centers across Australia in preparation for the wider rollout of the vaccines on Monday.
A small number of elderly Australians at Castle Hill Medical Center in western Sydney, geriatric carers, and frontline nurses and workers were among the group that was injected on Sunday.
The country is enjoying a second day without a single new COVID-19 transmission in the community, officials said. The vast majority of the population will be injected with the AstraZeneca (NASDAQ 🙂 vaccine by the end of October.
On Saturday, thousands of people took part in anti-vaccine rallies in major Australian cities to protest what they mistakenly believed to be mandatory vaccinations.
Australia has reported nearly 29,000 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths since March 2020. The country is in the top 10 of a COVID-19 performance index.
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