One million extra vaccine doses, half bound for Sydney’s hotspots

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One million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine will start landing in Australia on Sunday night and the first 530,000 shots will be made available to 20 to 39-year-olds in Sydney suburbs with the highest infection rates.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday the additional doses, which come on top of the 40 million shots the federal government has promised to purchase, would be enough to vaccinate everyone in the 20-39 age bracket in Sydney’s 12 highest risk local government areas.

The government purchased the doses from Poland with supply coming from the Pfizer plant in Belgium, which was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Association. The shots will be administered through the NSW Health system.

“There are more than a million doses of hope on their way. Earlier today, a plane left Dubai, having left Warsaw last night. We have been in discussions with the Polish government now for several weeks, and we have secured an additional one million doses of Pfizer and they will start landing in
Australia tonight,” Mr Morrison said.

The 12 Sydney local governments targeted for the Pfizer doses are Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield and Penrith.

The decision to direct the vaccines to adults aged under 40, who tend to be mobile and active in the community, was based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly on how to best grapple with NSW’s outbreak.

“His advice is based on that Doherty modelling and other work they have done about how the transmissibility of the virus works on those most affected areas and can be addressed through these additional doses,” Mr Morrison said.

Doherty Institute modelling shows that immunising younger people who tend to transmit the virus more – rather than older Australians who come into contact with fewer people – is a better strategy for the country to adopt.

The remaining doses will arrive in Australia this week and will be distributed among other states and territories, Mr Morrison said.

The allocations to the remaining states and territories is: Victoria 175,500, Queensland 136,890, South Australia 47,970, Western Australia 70,200, Tasmania 17,550, Northern Territory 8,190, and the ACT 14,040.

He implored people to only leave their homes “when you absolutely have to”, even if the government rules permitted them to be outside.

“And so my plea to my fellow Australians particularly my fellow Sydneysiders stay at home. Stay at home only leave when you absolutely have to,” Mr Morrison said.

“There’s no need to be out for hours and hours and hours a day. I know the rules provide it. But please don’t do it, stay home. The more we do that, the more likely we’re going to get through this.”

Poland’s Australian embassy said in a statement Australia had been added to the list of “low and middle-income countries” with which Poland was sharing vaccines such as in the Balkans, due to the recent outbreaks of the Delta strain of coronavirus. The doses were sold on a non-profit basis, according to the embassy.

“The decision to also add Australia to the list was taken against the backdrop of the current outbreak of Delta variant in the country, following the talks between both countries’ officials, including the Prime Ministers and foreign ministers,” the statement said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said rapid antigen testing will be trialled in 50 aged care facilities in Sydney.

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