Australia has opened up Covid-19 vaccinations to children as young as 12 as it races to inoculate the population amid an outbreak of the Delta variant.
Children ages 12 to 15 started receiving Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on Monday. Appointments for the Moderna vaccine can be booked now for sessions starting next week.
Australia’s vaccine campaign is gaining speed after a sluggish first few months. Millions of doses that were ordered earlier this year are arriving, and the country will have enough supply by mid-October to vaccinate every eligible person, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week.
Currently, 55 percent of the population of 26 million has had at least one vaccine dose, and 34 percent are fully inoculated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. The number of new cases increased by 36 percent over the past two weeks to 1,493 cases, based on the seven-day average.
Australia will also receive its first shipments of the Moderna vaccine this week, with 11 million total doses expected to be delivered by the end of the year. The government also signed an agreement with other nations to swap vaccines, which will allow it to get 500,000 doses of the Pfizer shot from Singapore and four million from Britain. In return, Australia promised to ship the same numbers of doses to the two countries later this year.
Fully vaccinated people living in Sydney, the epicenter of the Delta outbreak in Australia, had some restrictions eased on Monday. Those who live outside 12 government areas “of concern” are now allowed to have outdoor picnics with up to four other people.
Schools in Sydney will reopen on Oct. 25, while pubs and gyms are expected to open in mid-October when the state fully vaccinates 70 percent of its population.