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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Limited Vaccine Mandates in Australia

Virus Outbreak Australia
Mark Baker/AP
Staff prepare to take COVID-19 tests at a testing station in Nelson Bay, Australia, Monday, June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is requiring vaccines for those working in elderly care facilities and for health care and quarantine workers.

But he says that’s as far as he’s willing to go with government intervention.

The head of the country’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants a broader “public health order mandating the COVID-19 vaccine” — saying that otherwise, it’s not clear whether companies can require their employees to get vaccinated.

The Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions says her membership would generally support public health orders mandating vaccines.

Some Australian state and local governments are making their own vaccine mandates.

Starting Wednesday, construction workers in nine local government areas of New South Wales will need to get shots before getting back on the job.

A representative of the trade group representing independent grocery stores says his members believe the main priority is not vaccine mandates, but supply.

He says many store employees want vaccines but can’t get them.

About 22% of Australian adults are now vaccinated.

This week, the government cleared the use of the Moderna shot — the third approved in Australia after Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca.

The first Moderna doses are expected to arrive in the country by the end of next month.

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