Refugees, asylum seekers in Australia to get free COVID-19 vaccines

Sydney, Australia, Feb 4 (efe-epa).- Australia will provide free vaccination against COVID-19 to refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented and foreigners with temporary visas in addition to its citizens, the country’s health minister announced Thursday.

The Australian government aims to vaccinate the whole population by the end of October and has said getting vaccinated against the virus will be voluntary.

“We need to make sure that everybody who’s on Australian soil is safe, and everybody who’s on Australian soil has access to protection,” Greg Hunt said at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

At the press conference, Morrison announced that the country had purchased another 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine was the first to get the green light in the country at the end of January.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which provisionally approved the distribution of the vaccine for an initial period of two years for people aged 16 and over, said that it “meets the high safety, efficacy and quality standards required for use in Australia.”

While announcing the approval, Morrison had said that the vaccine, which was to be given to priority groups such as healthcare and border workers in mid-February, will rolled out at the end of the month due to challenges in “production and delivery for both AZ [AstraZeneca] and Pfizer around the world.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius.

Australia has secured a total of 150 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novavax to vaccinate its over 25 million inhabitants.

The Oceanic country was recently ranked eight in the world for its pandemic response in an index released by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.

Australia has recorded more than 28,800 COVID-19 cases, including 909 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic.

Most of the COVID-19 cases occurred due to an outbreak at the end of June of local infections in the city of Melbourne, believed to be as a result of alleged failures in quarantine hotels for international arrivals.

It currently faces small coronavirus outbreaks in the cities of Perth and Melbourne, where quarantine hotel workers tested positive for coronavirus this week. EFE-EPA


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