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Victoria announces grants to speed up COVID-19 vaccine rollout in hard-hit areas

General practitioners and community pharmacies in Melbourne suburbs hardest hit by COVID-19 will be able to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to speed up the vaccination rollout.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday announced more than 100 grants of up to $4000 and 10 grants of $10,000 for GPs and pharmacies in 11 local government areas with the highest number of infections and the lowest vaccination rates.

Those areas are: Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Melton, Moreland, Whittlesea and Wyndham.

Mr Andrews said the grants would allow GPs and pharmacies to operate additional hours, hire more staff or rent out space to run their own vaccination hubs.

“For a relatively modest investment, we get a huge return. More and more people vaccinated means less people in hospital, our community and economy open sooner,” Mr Andrews said.

Expressions of interest for the grants will open this week, with the funding to be distributed from 4 October.

Melbourne’s lockdown will remain in place until 70 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 are double-vaccinated, which is forecast for 26 October.

A more significant easing of restrictions will occur when the 80 per cent double-dose target is met, forecast for 5 November.

Mr Andrews said the state was looking at shortening the interval between first and second doses of Pfizer vaccines at vaccination hubs, which is currently set at six weeks, but needed certainty on supply from the federal government before doing so.

“If we can get that certainty of vaccine supply then we may be able to bring those forward and that would help us reach 70 per cent double-dose faster and in turn, 80 per cent double-dose faster as well,” he said.