Australia begins vaccinating frontline workers amid controversy

Sydney, Australia, Feb 22 (efe-epa).- Australia on Monday began the first phase of its Covid-19 vaccination program by administering the vaccine to essential workers amid a controversy after Tennis Australia’s president was booed for praising the vaccines during the presentation ceremony at the Australian Open.

Australian authorities plan to distribute about 60,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this week to frontline health workers, residents and staff at aged care and disability centers, as well as quarantine and border workers.

The first person to receive the vaccine on Monday was Rhonda Stuart, an infection prevention expert from the city of Melbourne, whose team treated the first Covid-19 case recorded in Australia in January 2020.

On Sunday, Australian authorities vaccinated a small group of people, including an 84-year-old woman of Polish origin who survived World War II and the country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, as a precursor to the national rollout.

The Covid-19 vaccination campaign comes after Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hdrilicka was booed and had to pause her speech at an Australian Open trophy ceremony on Sunday night after expressing her “optimism and hope for the future” due to the deployment of vaccines in the country and around the world.

Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd downplayed the incident on Monday by insisting that polls indicate that 80 percent of the more than 25 million residents of the country intend to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

“They understand that vaccines save lives and how important this is to getting Covid-19 under control in Australia,” Kidd told public broadcaster ABC while admitting that there were still some people who had doubts about the vaccine.

Australia, which implemented rapid border closures and partial lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus, is one of the countries that has best managed their epidemic.

It has recorded 28,920 cases so far, including 909 deaths, most of them due to an outbreak in Melbourne. EFE-EPA


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