The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Monday February 22.

Scott Morrison receives COVID-19 vaccination as rollout begins.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison became one of the first people in Australia to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Sunday in a "curtain-raiser" to Monday's national rollout.

He was one of twenty people, including a World War II survivor, who received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a medical clinic in Castle Hill in Sydney's north-west.

"I have, by my own example today, joined by the Chief Nurse of Midwifery and the Chief Medical Officer of our country, together with those Australians who are in the top priority of this vaccination program, to say to you, Australians, it's safe, it's important," Mr Morrison said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison receives a Covid-19 vaccination from Doctor Jesse Li at Castle Hill Medical Centre on February 21, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Image: Mark Evans/Getty. 

"Today I put my shoulder to the job and that is what I am asking Australians to do, in joining me and all of their fellow Australians as we continue on the successful path we have been on."

He confirmed that Health Minister Greg Hunt and former Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy would receive the alternative AstraZeneca jab when it becomes available at a later date.

Health workers on the frontline of Victoria's battle with COVID-19 will be some of the first to receive the jab as the vaccine rollout officially begins today.


Victoria's first 12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived on Sunday afternoon at Monash Hospital in Clayton where they are being kept at minus 70C. 

They will begin being administered on Monday morning, with high-risk frontline health staff first in the queue.

Not everyone is on board, however, with hundreds of protesters gathering at a rally in Melbourne's Fawkner Park on Saturday. Police made over 20 arrests at the event.

Brittany Higgins' case to dominate parliamentary debate as a third woman comes forward.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison can expect to be quizzed further by the opposition and journalists on what he and his staff knew about the alleged attack of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins when politicians return to Parliament House for another sitting week.

Higgins' allegation of rape in 2019 surfaced a week ago, with a second staffer alleging she was also attacked by the same person a year later. 

On Monday, The Australian reported a new complainant, a Liberal Party volunteer, who says she was assaulted after a night drinking with the man.


The publication says she woke up with her blouse buttons opened and her jeans pushed down and the staffer "lying on top of me" after he offered to "look after her" at his hotel room after buying her rounds of strong drinks. She later discovered that she was bleeding after fleeing the room.

After hearing Ms Higgins' story, the woman says she thought "it was so eerily similar, it made me think this person has a pattern of behaviour," adding that that attack left her feeling "severely embarrassed about it and felt dirty and ashamed."

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles agreed with the prime minister that the culture of parliament needs to change but unlike Mr Morrison, he wants an independent inquiry.

"It can't be partisan," Mr Marles told reporters on Sunday. "This applies to all of us – the failings in respect of the culture in Parliament House is an indictment on all of us."

Former deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek also believes there is more to the events that followed the alleged attack on Ms Higgins than are being told.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Novak wins "challenging" ninth Australian Open despite injury.

Hitting back at his detractors and slamming the doubters, Novak Djokovic says his ninth Australian Open triumph was among the most challenging of his grand slam career.


Djokovic thumped Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 in Sunday night's final before taking aim at his critics.

The Serb was savaged pre-tournament for detailing a list of so-called quarantine demands for the 72 players holed up in hard lockdown, then accused of exaggerating an abdominal injury during his five-set third-round win over Taylor Fritz.

While admitting that the criticism had hurt him, Djokovic explained how he'd developed a thick skin to block it out.

"Emotionally (this) was one of hardest tournaments I had, to be honest, with quarantine and a lot of things happening in the media," the world No.1 told Nine.

"The letter that I wrote, ideas and recommendations that I got from players was misinterpreted as my request and list of demands. Then the next thing you know within a couple of days I'm persona non grata in this country.

"I got injured in the third round. It was a rollercoaster ride if I can define it in one word. I think it makes it even sweeter for me."

The 33-year-old said he spent countless hours in between matches having treatment so he could keep going.

Prince Philip spends sixth night in hospital.

Prince Philip is spending his sixth night in hospital in London. 

The Duke of Edinburgh, 99, was admitted to the private King Edward VII's Hospital on Tuesday evening as a precautionary measure after feeling unwell. He is said to have walked in unaided.


His eldest son Prince Charles was the first member of the royal family to visit when he made the 320 kilometre round-trip from his home in Gloucestershire on Saturday afternoon.

It is understood that Charles wanted to visit his father due to Philip's extended stay.

Charles, who arrived in a Tesla car, stepped out wearing a face mask, before leaving the hospital about 30 minutes later.

It is thought Charles had not seen his father since before Christmas because of the nationwide coronavirus restrictions, with Philip staying at Windsor Castle with the Queen.

"US might still need a mask in 2022": Says Fauci, as country nears 500,000 deaths in one year.

Americans may still need to wear masks in 2022 even as the country relaxes other restrictions to combat COVID-19, the nation's top infections disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci says.

While daily infection rates are coming down dramatically, thousands of Americans still die every day from the virus, and less than 15 per cent of the US population has so far been vaccinated against it. 

President Joe Biden is trying to accelerate the campaign to vaccinate most American adults as local governments clamour for more doses to prevent the virus that has claimed nearly 500,000 lives in the US.


Fauci, Biden's top medical adviser, told CNN on Sunday that the approaching deaths tally was "a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country".

Asked if Americans should expect to still be wearing masks into next year, Fauci said: "I think it is possible that that's the case". 

"Obviously, I think we are going to have a significant degree of normality beyond the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year," Fauci said.

Biden declares major disaster in Texas.

US President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for Texas, which has suffered widespread power blackouts and water shortages during a deadly deep freeze. 

Millions of residents in Texas have dealt with power outages, and nearly half of the state's residents on Friday had to endure disrupted water service. 

Nearly 70 deaths have been attributed to the storm and a frigid snap.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the major disaster declaration on Saturday. 

It makes federal funding available to individuals across the state, including assistance for temporary housing. home repairs and low-cost loans.

Biden is also weighing a trip to Texas to survey the federal response to the first new crisis to develop since he took office a month ago. 

All the state's power plants had returned to service, although more than 195,000 homes remained without electricity on Friday morning, and residents of 160 of Texas' 254 counties had water service disruptions, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Around the world.

- On Monday, Christchurch will pause and remember the 185 killed in a major earthquake on February 22, 2011.

- The UK government has pledged to speed up its coronavirus vaccine rollout, vowing to offer a first jab to all adults by the end of July.

- With AAP

Feature image: Mark Evans/Facebook/TPN/Getty

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