Australia kicked off its public rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday amid protests against the campaign, including a vocal opposition protest from the crowd in the Australian Open final.
About 60,000 doses are expected to be administered this week, starting with frontline workers – from healthcare workers to hotel quarantine workers and police – and residents of nursing homes for the elderly.
Morning television news broadcasts showed the first shots administered to medical and quarantine staff in Melbourne and Sydney, a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison received his shot at a “lift of curtain “aimed at convincing Australians that the vaccine was safe.
The launch was overshadowed by scattered but vocal anti-vaccine protests in major cities, capped by an explosion of tennis fans in the men’s Australian Open final on Sunday night.
At the awards ceremony after Novak Djokovic won his ninth Australian Open title, Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka triggered a chorus of boos from the crowd of 7,500 when she raised hopes that the vaccine rollout would help end the disruption to professional sport caused by the pandemic.
Fans also laughed loudly when Hrdlicka thanked authorities in Melbourne and neighboring Victoria for helping to secure the first Grand Slam of the season.
The tournament has been disrupted by the viral crisis from the start, with players forced into quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Australia and fans banned from attending matches in a five-day mid-tournament lockdown ordered by Victoria to contain a small outbreak of coronavirus.
Despite the protests, opinion polls indicate that around 80 percent of eligible Australians are ready to be vaccinated.
Australia has been one of the best performing countries in the world at containing the coronavirus thanks to the rapid closure of the country’s borders and aggressive measures to tackle epidemics through lockdowns and intensive testing programs and contact tracing.
The vaccination campaign begins with imported doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and a later phase will use locally manufactured AstraZeneca injections.
The government says it will complete the country’s 25 million vaccination campaign by October.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)