Australian PM promises more COVID-19 shots to states amid rollout delays

SYDNEY, June 21 (Reuters) – Australian states and territories will soon receive more doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday as authorities try to avoid further delays in a vaccination campaign that has hit multiple roadblocks .

Australian states have asked for more vaccines after Australia announced a policy change last week recommending AstraZeneca (AZN.L) Shots only for people over 60 due to clot problems, which messes up introduction.

“They’re all getting the extra doses … it scales back in July when the extra Pfizer (PFE.N) Cans are running out, “Morrison told radio station 2GB on Monday. Morrison did not disclose how many shots each state would receive.

Australia’s nationwide vaccination program missed several initial targets due to patchy international vaccine shipments, while a change in medical advice on AstraZeneca doses further slowed an already sluggish program.

Only 4% of Australia’s 20 million adult population have been fully vaccinated while more than 25% have received at least their first dose.

To expedite adoption, the federal government plans to distribute around 2.3 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to states and territories in June, increasing to 3.4 million by July.

Australia relies on overseas shipments for its Pfizer shots, while the AstraZeneca shots are produced locally.

Morrison has called a meeting of the national cabinet, the group of federal, state and territorial leaders, on Monday, three weeks ahead of schedule, amid the turmoil in his vaccination program. The next meeting was scheduled for July 9th.

The government’s promise to give more doses to the states comes as New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, struggles to contain a recent outbreak, which grew to nine cases over the weekend.

The state of Victoria reported a new locally acquired case related to an existing cluster on Monday, while Queensland, which reported a new infection on Sunday, did not report any new cases. NSW is slated to release its latest numbers later on Monday.

Reporting from Renju Jose; Editing of Lincoln Fest.

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