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Australia Rules Out Adding J&J Vaccine to Inoculation Plan

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this March 25, 2021 file photo, a box of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is shown in a refrigerator at a clinic in Washington state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian government has decided against buying the single-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine as a way to accelerate its immunization program.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Tuesday the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is similar to the AstraZeneca product, which Australia already contracted to buy.

Australia had planned to rely on Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca with the goal of delivering at least one dose of vaccine to all eligible adults among a population of 26 million by October. But the government announced last week that the Pfizer vaccine is now the preferred option for people under 50 because of a potential health risk from AstraZeneca.

Australia has doubled its Pfizer order to 40 million doses. Australia had acquired 3.7 doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines by Monday and had injected 1.2 million doses.