Younger people urged to get AstraZeneca

The head of Australia’s vaccine task force wants young people living in Sydney to get vaccinated as quickly as possible as the city’s COVID-19 crisis worsens.

The federal government has released a graphic ad showing a young woman struggling to breathe after contracting coronavirus.

It has been broadcast in Sydney as the city struggles with a growing outbreak, reporting 112 new cases on Monday.

There are 63 COVID-19 patients in hospital in NSW. Of those in hospital, 14 are under the age of 35 and 18 are in intensive care.

Three people aged in their 20s, 30s and 40s, respectively, are in intensive care.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said this dispelled the notion young people weren’t going to get sick from the virus.

The state’s mass vaccination hubs and pharmacies will now start offering AstraZeneca vaccines to people aged over 40.

Lieutenant General John Frewen said the graphic ad showing a young woman gasping for air in hospital was designed to be confronting.

He urged people aged under 40 living in hotspot areas to talk to their doctor about getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite Pfizer being preferred for that age group.

Lt Gen Frewen said people in southwest Sydney needed to weigh up the risks of getting coronavirus against the vaccine advice.

“Those people between 18 and 40 need to make a decision now about whether they want to take their chances with the Delta virus or whether they want to get down, have a discussion with their GPs and get AstraZeneca,” he said.

Public health expert Bill Bowtell panned the “insensitive” coronavirus ad and demanded it be taken down.

“It would have been far better to have a real person, real people, who have either had COVID or recovered from it, or regrettably there are thousands of families in Australia who have lost people to COVID,” he said.

“That’s honest, that’s truthful, that’s authentic and that has impact.”

Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek criticised the decision to use a young woman sick with the virus, considering the age group is not yet eligible for vaccination.

Meanwhile, the federal government is preparing to announce a support package to run alongside support measures from the NSW government.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state was working out additional support for businesses to be announced in coming days.

The commonwealth is also expected to broaden the eligibility for individual and household support payments.

Sydney cafes, bars and pubs have gone back to past lockdown routines, limiting their offerings to takeaway and delivery.

Small businesses have warned their reduced revenues are not enough to survive and they need much more support.

Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen, who represents the seat of McMahon in southwest Sydney, said JobKeeper or something similar should be brought back.

“There needs to be a carefully designed package. It shouldn’t be Sydney specific, it should apply to all lockdown areas,” he said.

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