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Australian Defence Force called in to support lagging COVID-19 vaccination rollout
Source: ABC
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  • The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been called in to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution as the rollout continues to fall short of expectations
  • Starting next week the ADF will assist in the distribution of doses to residents at aged care facilities and rural or regional areas
  • Just under 34,000 doses have been handed out to date, missing a first-week target by almost half that amount
  • Despite that, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia's vaccination schedule was on track to finish by the end of October
  • So far, Australia has largely avoided a major outbreak of the coronavirus, with less than 29,000 infections and just 909 deaths

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been called in to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution as the rollout continues to fall short of expectations.

According to acting Defence Minister Marise Payne, starting next week the ADF will assist in the distribution of doses to residents at aged care facilities and rural or regional areas not readily accessible by other medical providers.

"As we move into the next phase of the aged care vaccine rollout and continue the expansion of teams, additional nurses, pharmacists and providers are being added, with ADF vaccination teams supplementing these efforts," Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.

Australia began its mass vaccination program on February 22, prioritising frontline health workers and senior citizens. However, the number of doses administered so far has fallen short of the government's target by almost half.

Just under 34,000 doses have been handed out to date, with the rollout slowing after two elderly people were inadvertently given four times the recommended dose.

Despite that, Hunt said Australia's vaccination schedule was on track to finish by the end of October, with more vaccines anticipated to arrive without delay and local production of doses to begin within weeks.

Unlike many other developed nations, Australia has largely avoided a major outbreak of the coronavirus, with less than 29,000 infections and just 909 deaths. This compares to the U.K., which has so far recorded around 4.19 million infections and 123,000 deaths, and the U.S., with roughly 28.7 million infections and 516,000 deaths.

On Tuesday, Australia extended the closure of its international borders until June 17 after authorities deemed the emergence of more virulent variants of the virus posed serious public health risks.

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