SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK, Australia — Gladys Berejiklian, premier of the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales, is pleased with the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine, with almost a million people receiving a jab so far.
The premier outlined her ambition for international borders to open “sooner than the middle of next year” based on her desire for most of the state’s six million adults to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“New South Wales is edging towards a million jabs being administered,” Berejiklian said on May 17.
“If we get the majority of our population vaccinated, then we can think of opening our international borders.”
She was speaking at Sydney’s Olympic Park mass vaccination hub on the first day that everyone 50 and older are able to book in to get an AstraZeneca jab from their General Practitioner.
More than 16,000 people aged 40 to 49 have been contacted to make an appointment at Sydney Olympic Park after registering their interest in receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
The premier claimed that there was “good strong demand” in the community to be vaccinated, with some centers “providing a few jabs every minute.”
The total number of doses given in New South Wales until 8 pm on the night of May 16 stood at 926,242, with more than 100 sites administering the vaccine.
New South Wales Health is pushing to administer 10 million jabs to vaccinate every willing adult.
“The quicker the vaccine is rolled out, the quicker we will be able to ease restrictions and resume a normal existence during Covid,” Berejiklian said.
She urged people to get vaccinated while acknowledging some anxiety among people over 50 about getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been linked to blood clots in rare cases.
“Both vaccines are effective, no vaccine is 100 percent, but we’re aimed at preventing people dying.”
“I appreciate some people may be concerned … I would encourage people who have access to a safe vaccine to have that vaccine,” she said.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard also urged people to get whatever vaccine is available to them.
“Straight outside our borders, there are hundreds of thousands of people dying, and that could happen, have the vaccine,” he said.
“It’s up to each and every one of us to step forward and have the vaccine.”
New South Wales recorded no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 8 pm on May 16, with the missing link from the recent Sydney outbreak still unknown.
Meanwhile, Covid restrictions have eased across Greater Sydney, with no more limits on visitors to homes, dancing, and singing.
Masks are no longer compulsory — although they remain recommended — on public transport.
Hazard has tweeted about the easing of restrictions. “Covid 19 restrictions in greater Sydney (implemented 10 days ago) will be lifted at 12.01 am tomorrow (May 17). See Health Notice issued today. Still pays to be cautious,” read the tweet.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Pallavi Mehra)