Australia: Australia reaches a “magnificent milestone” with an 80% vaccination rate

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Australia reached a full vaccination rate of 80% of people aged 16 and over on Saturday, in what Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a “magnificent step” on the road to becoming one of the most vaccinated countries in the world against COVID-19.

Once a champion of a zero COVID strategy to deal with the pandemic, the country of 25 million has moved on to living with the virus through intensive vaccinations, as the Delta variant has proven too contagious to be removed.

“Another beautiful stop, Australia,” Morrison said in a video post on Facebook. “It’s four out of five, how good is that? It’s been a real Australian national effort.”

While vaccinations remain voluntary at the federal level, Australian states and territories have introduced mandatory measures for many occupations and workers. The unvaccinated are prohibited from many activities, such as dining out or concerts.

Australia on Monday eased international border restrictions for the first time during the pandemic, but only for those vaccinated from heavily inoculated states.

The media said about 3,000 people gathered in a peaceful protest against the vaccine mandate protests in Melbourne, the capital of the southeastern state of Victoria, which spent nearly nine months in six blockages during the pandemic.

Australia has seen frequent and sometimes violent anti-vaccine rallies in recent months, but movement remains weak, with polls showing the number of people opposing the vaccination is in single digits across the country.

The national immunization figure, however, includes uneven levels.

Almost 90% of those eligible have been fully vaccinated in the most populous state of New South Wales and almost 95% in the capital Canberra, but that figure drops to just 65% in the Northern Territory and the Sparsely populated Western Australia.

The country recorded 1,558 infections and 10 deaths on Saturday, with the majority of infections being in Victoria. Parts of the Northern Territory are stranded in the blink of an eye for three days, after an outbreak has grown to three cases.

Despite the Delta outbreaks that have led to months of lockdown in the two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, the national tally of fewer than 179,000 infections and 1,587 deaths is far lower than that of many developed countries.


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