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Novavax jab to be rolled out from Monday

Australian health authorities are hoping the availability of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine from Monday will inject new momentum into the program.

So far 93.9 per cent of Australians over 16 are double-dosed, according to official figures.

But the second-dose rate is below this in WA, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria.

Some people have been holding off getting vaccinated until the protein-based Novavax was approved and rolled out.

Novavax will be made available at GP clinics, community pharmacies and state-run vaccine clinics.

The first batches of the vaccine arrived in the country earlier this week, with the government having purchased 51 million Novavax doses.

“Despite high vaccination rates in Australia, there has been demand for a protein-based formula. For some people, the arrival of Novavax will be the extra push they need to get their first jab,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

It comes as pandemic emergency measures were extended until April 17.

Emergency requirements including restrictions on outbound travel for unvaccinated Australians, mandatory pre-departure and mask wearing for international travel, and restrictions on cruise ships entering the country will continue.

Other measures include implementing restrictions to protect remote communities in the Northern Territory and preventing price gouging of rapid antigen tests.

Mr Hunt said the extension was necessary due to the wave of Omicron cases, but they may be revoked should the health advice change before then.

While the measures continue to restrict cruise ships from entering Australia, an agreement at Thursday’s national cabinet meeting has paved the way for cruises resuming, once a deal is struck with the states and industry on safety measures.

Meanwhile, there were 48 new deaths from COVID-19 in the latest reporting period.

Of those, there were 19 fatalities in NSW, 14 in Queensland, 13 in Victoria, two each in South Australia and the NT, and one in Western Australia.

The latest figures showed there were more than 25,000 infections across the country, with almost 9000 in both NSW and Victoria, while Queensland had just under 6000 cases, South Australia had 1445, NT 1096, Tasmania 552 and WA 51.

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