Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

Victorians could enjoy more freedoms next weekend as the state was on track to reach its 70 percent full vaccination target earlier than originally expected.

During the modeling that underpinned the non-lockdown schedules, 70 percent of Victorians aged 16 and over were likely to be fully vaccinated by October 26th.

Lightened restrictions attached to this vaccination threshold include lifting home orders and curfews, though a 25-kilometer household bubble will still be in place for flour burners.

On Tuesday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the state could move faster toward the goals in the roadmap than expected, but high levels of vaccine intake must be maintained for health authorities to ease restrictions earlier.

“It is possible that we are three or four days ahead of the initial forecast, but it depends every single day on these reservations being met and people going up and getting the vaccine,” he said on Tuesday.

Independent data analyst Anthony Macali, who collects Australia’s COVID statistics on his own website, said the figures showed Victoria was ahead of its roadmap.

A man stands and looks stern while appearing on television
Independent data analyst Anthony Macali says the amount of Victorians receiving their second dose has almost doubled in two weeks.(ABC News)

“We are all on the right track, probably a little earlier than the indicative dates announced by the government,” Macali said.

He said based on his analysis, the state would likely hit the 70 percent double-dose target by October 22 or 23 and the 80 percent target by November 1 or 2.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews indicated that the restrictions would ease as close to the actual date the vaccination targets were met as possible.

“If we get there earlier, what a great problem for us to have, what a great challenge for us to have to deal with,” he said.

Health officials said this week that Victoria’s first vaccination rate had now surpassed countries such as the United States, Israel, Germany and Sweden.

Dean of Health Sciences at Swinburne University Bruce Thompson said there was a general level of optimism in the community about the state vaccination push.

“Can we get it sooner than we think we can? It would just be wonderful. But what it looks like, it won’t be later,” Professor Thompson said.

He said the vast majority of people who started the vaccination process completed it, giving health professionals confidence that Victoria’s second dose numbers would soon match its first dose.

MCU by Professor Bruce Thompson wearing a work shirt with open neck and dark blazer
Professor Bruce Thompson says the vast majority of Victorians with a dose will soon end their vaccination journey.(ABC News)

“So many people have had the first dose, so it’s pretty safe to get the second dose. So it can really assure us that we’re actually getting it well and properly under control.

“The way the numbers look, each of them is about 10 days away. 10 days for 70 percent, another 10 days for 80 percent. When we think about it, it’s not that far.”

Visits to households are still linked to the 80 percent target

The government has maintained a firm stance on the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, saying health authorities will continue to review epidemiology daily to make decisions.

Under the roadmap, household visits will not return to Melbourne until the 80 per cent vaccination target is hit, which was originally predicted on 5 November.

Professor Sutton said household transfer was still a driver for COVID-19 cases.

He said the condition of returning to household visitors when 80 per cent of eligible Victorians were double-vaccinated had come from health authorities who wanted to reach a “safe zone”.

“Getting into that zone is a really different kind of ball game in terms of the protection we have,” he said.

Health Minister Martin Foley said no changes to the roadmap would be announced.

“We have nothing to add to the roadmap. It’s transparent.”

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Casey Briggs looks at national vaccination rates

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