Australian PM receives jab as rollout begins
Published: 09:33 AM, 21 February 2021 Updated: 05:03 PM, 21 February 2021
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was given the vaccine
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received the coronavirus vaccine as the country prepares to start inoculations this week.
His jab was televised on Sunday in order to help boost confidence in the vaccine rollout across Australia.
Vaccinations officially begin on Monday and at least 60,000 doses are expected to be administered next week.
On Saturday, small crowds of anti-vaccination demonstrators gathered to protest against the launch.
Mr Morrison was part of a small group of people vaccinated on Sunday along with some frontline health workers and care home residents. Australia's chief nurse Professor Alison McMillan and Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly were also immunised.
Speaking at ahead of his vaccination, Mr Morrison said: "Tomorrow our vaccination programme 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."
The first person to be vaccinated in the country was 85-year-old Jane Malysiak.
The first vaccinations in Australia will be the Pfizer vaccine which has been granted approval for use.
Australia's medical regulator earlier this week also granted provisional approval for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which is expected to be rolled out next month. Health Minister Greg Hunt says he will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming weeks.
Both vaccines have undergone extensive safety checks and are already being used in several countries.
Australia aims to inoculate four million people by early March.
The priority groups in the first round include the 700,000 frontline workers in the health sector, border enforcement and care homes, along with the residents of care homes.
Following that, Australians aged over 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55, healthcare workers, adults with underlying health conditions and emergency services workers will be next.
On Saturday protests were held in cities including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane against the vaccination rollout.
The rallies on Saturday were joined by a few thousand people in total, according to broadcaster ABC.
media captionPolice clash with anti-vaccine protesters in Melbourne
In Melbourne, some protesters clashed with police, who used pepper spray and made several arrests.
Australia has recorded 28,920 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began.