Australia has officially reached a major vaccination milestone – with more than 70 per cent of the population over the age of 16 now fully vaccinated.
As seen in the video above, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the target had been reached at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
“To be precise, 70.007 per cent of Australians. That’s a memorable number,” Hunt said.
Under the national roadmap, lockdowns are “less likely” at the 70 per cent milestone under “phase B” of the plan.
While each state or territory has been determining its own easing of restrictions, the next step under the national plan also included “increasing inbound passenger caps” and “reduced quarantine arrangements”.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly heralded the 70 per cent announcement as “truly incredible”.
“Moving into phase B of the national plan allows us to really consider what else we can be doing to get back to some sort of COVID normal here in Australia,” Kelly said.
The federal government also provided an update on the COVID vaccine booster rollout ahead of a “key meeting” next week.
Aged care residents are expected to start receiving third jabs from the second week of November, subject to approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
“We are ready to commence and make sure that additional protection is provided,” Hunt said.
“There is unlikely to be the need to prioritise because we have sufficient vaccine.”
The rollout will also be supported by a major advertising campaign, the health minister added.
Kelly said older people and aged care residents who were initial rollout priorities could be the first recipients.
“They will be the first in line because they are now six or more months after that second dose,” he said.
“It’s likely they will be the first ones to get it but let’s see what ATAGI comes back with.”
Professor Kelly met with ATAGI on Tuesday when evidence from booster programs around the world was considered.
“We are able to look at the data that had come out from Israel,” he said.
“It very much confirms this is safe, it is effective in all age groups for both decreasing infection as well as severe disease and, for the older age groups, prevention of death.”
ATAGI is expected to release its advice on booster vaccines for the wider population before the end of the month.