Australia has opened up the Covid-19 vaccination to children as young as 12 as it rushes to inoculate the population amid an outbreak of the Delta variant.
Children aged 12 to 15 started receiving Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on Monday. Moderna vaccine appointments can be made now for sessions starting next week.
The Australian vaccination campaign is gaining momentum after the first sluggish months. Millions of doses that were ordered earlier this year are coming, and the country will have enough reserves by mid-October to vaccinate all eligible people, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week.
Currently, 55% of the population of 26 million have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 34% are fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. The number of new cases has increased 36% in the past two weeks to 1,493 cases, based on the seven-day average.
Australia will also receive its first shipments of Moderna vaccine this week, with 11 million total doses expected to be delivered by the end of the year. The government has also signed an agreement with other countries to exchange vaccines, which will allow it to obtain 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from Singapore and four million from Great Britain. In return, Australia has promised to ship the same number of doses to both countries later this year.
Fully vaccinated people living in Sydney, the epicenter of the Delta epidemic in Australia, saw some restrictions relaxed on Monday. Those living outside the 12 government areas of “concern” are now allowed to picnic outdoors with up to four other people.
Schools in Sydney will reopen on October 25, while pubs and gymnasiums are expected to open in mid-October when the state fully immunizes 70 percent of its population.