Good news, everyone! Australia has just hit a major milestone in the race to get vaccinated.
As of today, 70% of Australians aged 16 and over have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 85.5 % have also received their first dose.
While some states are more vaccinated than others, with NSW leading the charge on 81.6%, the national average has finally reached the level to trigger Phase B of the federal government’s four-phase strategy to repeal lockdowns and return life to normality.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the vaccination rate was a testament to Australians.
“I can officially confirm that Australia has now passed the 70 per cent double-dosed vaccination rate for the 16-plus population,” he said.
“To be precise, 70.007 per cent of Australians.
“It’s a memorable number, but it’s memorable above all else because it represents the movement at a national level to phase B of our national roadmap.”
Under the national roadmap, Phase B sees lockdown repealed, restrictions lifted for fully vaccinated residents, international arrival caps increased, and international students and temporary visa holders able to return to Australia.
It is also when the state will start to focus on booster shots for those who need them.
Hunt has suggested that boosters would first be rolled out in aged care homes.
“We have the supply, we have the mechanism. The last part is the medical advice and the medical approval,” he said.
Of course, a 70% vaccination rate amongst those in the over 16 population still means that Australia has only vaccinated around 57% of the total population.
This actually puts us 27th out of the 38 OECD countries and, while we’ve climbed that list from a position of dead last, we’ve still got a long way to go to achieve the levels that countries like Norway, Spain, Portugal, or Canada have.
It does however mean that Australia is just about more vaccinated than the US on average, which in itself is a huge achievement as our rollout started many months after theirs did.
Hunt also celebrated the fact that Canberra is now one of the most vaccinated cities in the world.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge what has happened here in the ACT,” he said.
“The ACT is at 98.1 per cent first vaccinations. It is one of the most highly vaccinated societies in the world.”
Although two regions have now reached the 80% target, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory are still not expected to reach 70% until mid-November, and 80% by mid-to-late December.
There’s still a long way to go but we’re getting there.