Australia offers all adults AstraZeneca to speed up rollout

Australia offers all adults AstraZeneca to speed up rollout


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia is offering AstraZeneca to all adults in a bid to rapidly ramp up sluggish vaccination rates as more of the country on Tuesday locked down against the spread of COVID-19.

The government late Monday agreed to indemnify doctors who administer the AstraZeneca vaccine that has been blamed for at least two fatalities from a rare blood clot complication in Australia since April.

That exceeds the single death from COVID-19 in Australia this year, and vaccine hesitancy has increased with only 5% of the population fully inoculated.

Pfizer has been the recommended vaccine for people younger than 60 since a 52-year-old woman died in May of blood clots in the brain blamed on AstraZeneca.

But supply of Pfizer, the only alternative to Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca, cannot keep up with demand.

“There’s a preference for Pfizer until the age of 60. That’s a preference,” Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Tuesday.

“It’s a discussion for doctors to have with their own patients and work through their own risk and benefit in relation to that,” Kelly added.

The Queensland state capital Brisbane and surrounding cities will be in lockdown for three days from late Tuesday after the government reported two new COVID-19 infections.

Sydney reported 19 new infections in that east coast city, Perth reported two new cases on the west coast and Darwin reported two new cases on the north coast. Those three cities and their surrounds are already in lockdown.

Australia has been relatively successful in containing clusters throughout the pandemic, registering fewer than 31,000 cases and 910 deaths within a population of 26 million. But the new clusters of a variant thought to be more contagious have highlighted the nation’s vulnerability through a slow...

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